My friend Monica is getting married next week. This fall marks ten years since I met her on the second floor of Veenstra and four since she became my roommate in Madison. I’ll always think of her (and Kelsey and Susan) as my roommates, despite three of us now being married and Monica soon becoming the fourth. To me, “roommate” means something even stronger than “friend,” hinting at the deep ties of having shared a home and life together for so long. When Nick the soft-spoken foodie started coming around last year, he quickly won the approval of us roommates. Soon he’ll be the only person lucky enough to share a home with Monica.

One of Monica’s primary love languages is mix CDs. Ever since she first hid a birthday CD under my car eight years ago, Monica has blessed me with bangin’ compilations to mark such important occasions as “moving to a new city,” “having a DTR conversation” and “it’s summer.” These mixes contain such brilliant tracks as Disney remixes, a sensitive acoustic cover of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” and an abundance of songs taken from the scores of horse movies. 

As I’ve pondered how to describe in words this sassy, stylish, adventurous friend I’ve treasured for over a third of my life, it felt right to show my love through music. Here is a playlist to commemorate Monica’s wedding.  

“We’re Going to Be Friends” by the White Stripes. To Monica’s own amusement, many people think she’s quiet upon first impression. I thought so too when I first met her in the dorm, but sensed that Monica was good friend material. When I asked once if I could get anything for her at Meijer, Monica requested a particular brand of chocolate chips. Determined to follow through for the cool girl in room 253, I traveled to three stores to find the right kind. I didn’t have to work so hard to be her friend, though. All it required was taking time to see the delightful goofiness beneath Monica’s “quiet” exterior. 

“I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers. It’s cliche to say it, but I am a better person for having known Monica. She is not afraid to graciously encourage her friends to be better. I always admired how Monica lacked the typical Midwestern habit of hemming and hawing when asking you to improve something or to do what needs to be done. She speaks the truth in love, such as gently sending the house group chat a GIF of a cat mopping to remind us it’s chore day. 

“Cheerleader” by OMI and Felix Jaehn. For Monica’s positivity, enthusiasm, and mastery of the trumpet.

“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. For her strength and resilience. 

“Sleepyhead” by Passion Pit. For how she’s always the first roommate to go to bed. 

“Wake Me Up” by Avicii. For how she’s also the first roommate up. On days we needed to be out of bed early for breakfast or a hike, Monica woke us by blasting “Circle of Life” from The Lion King through the house, jolting us out of bed with the iconic opening “NAAAAAAA!” Appropriately, I couldn’t put “Circle of Life” on this playlist because Monica already made it the opening track on my wedding gift mix. 

“Handyman” by AWOLNATION. Monica is one of the craftiest, handiest people I know. She taught me to use a power drill and was the primary member of “Team Fix-It” when we all lived together. She builds shelves, sews quilts, and alters bridesmaid dresses—and with soon-to-be four weddings between us roommates, there’s been a lot of bridesmaid dresses. She can solve any problem with the right drill bit and can be counted on to hang up the most difficult framed picture, even if she has to squash her face against the wall to do it. 

“Take Care of Business” by Nina Simone. Monica is also an excellent crisis manager, keeping a clear head in such disasters as Susan losing my dog in the neighborhood, Susan setting the microwave cover on fire, or Susan breaking the garbage disposal by putting too many carrots in it (okay, maybe that one was me). 

“Lying on the Floor” by Violent Soho. For our house’s favorite stress-relieving, angst-expressing activity. 

“Banana (Minisiren Remix)” by Conkarah. For Monica’s beloved banana tree, now even taller than her. 

“Chocolate” by The 1975. For Monica’s professional snacking ability, of which chocolate chips make up only a small part. 

“Music” by Madonna. Monica embodies the lyric, “Music makes the people come together.” Driving with Monica every week to go climbing was always a jam session—even when we spent two months straight listening exclusively to Mumford and Sons’ Delta.

“Climb” by 24kGoldn. For Monica’s climbing skills and the years we spent being each other’s belay.

“Teach Me” by Bakermat. For the patient and skilled mentor Monica is always willing to be.

“Round and Round” by Imagine Dragons. Monica has an unending dedication to any animal that is round, soft, or chubby. When she worked at a lab, we got to hear stories about the fat rats whose tummies she tickled or the squishy hamsters who gobbled popcorn treats. Monica’s favorite blog is “Round Animals,” and her favorite animal—the wombat—epitomizes this trait. Did you know wombats have a backward pouch? Did you know their poop is cube shaped? Monica knows. Her collection of stuffed wombats (referred to as “kitties”) is always growing, and she might even hide one in your apartment when she visits. Once while jumping up and down holding their stuffed kitties during a moment of finals-induced hysteria, Monica and Kelsey were interrupted by a downstairs neighbor who informed them that her cabinets were shaking and could they please stop. 

“Greek Tragedy” by The Wombats. The lyrics are irrelevant, I just wanted something else wombat-related.

“Find You” by Nick Jonas. Another skill of Monica’s is internet stalking. If a new guy catches your eye in class or church, you better believe Monica will track down all information about him ever published on the internet and figure out for you whether that girl in his profile picture is his girlfriend or his sister.

“Move Out” by Anirban Jee. For all the times Monica and I helped each other move and packed and unpacked an entire house together, and for her generous enthusiasm for helping any friends move. May next week’s move into your new house with Nick be your last for many years, Monica. 

“Dragosta Din Tei” by Ozone. A classic that I pranked Monica with from our shared Spotify account when she was trying to clean the house to her own tunes. When, from the next room, I kept switching the song to this Romanian hit, Monica went from confusion to realization to dramatic dancing. Months later, while I was listening to my own music at the gym, Monica was able to, from home, change the song in my earbuds to this one. This sparked an all-out war of songs from afar, with me choosing songs like “Forget You” and “Move Out” and her retorting with “I Thought We Were Friends.”

“The Times They Are A Changin’” by Bob Dylan. For all the life changes we’ve been through together, including moving away from each other. And for the harmonica, another of Monica’s talents.

“Last Name” by Carrie Underwood. A song in which Carrie Underwood marries a stranger and discovers she does not know her last name. Monica might relate because as she gets used to her new five-syllable last name, I imagine she’ll get halfway through saying it, then lose her place and forget the rest. 

Monica, I can’t wait to stand up with you when you get married. Congratulations, my friend. 

2 Comments

  1. Pat Middlin

    I so loved reading this funny, heartfelt tribute to your friendship! Best wishes to Monica!

    Reply
  2. Kyric Koning

    The level of creativity and love in this piece are off the charts. It’s always cool to see how friendships play out, what makes them, and why they last.

    Thanks for all the clever, wise, vulnerable posts. Always felt a certain level of camaraderie, even if we haven’t actually met. May all your days be bright, as well as your writing and endeavors.

    Reply

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