There have been some memories made at 1422 Stone Gate Drive. The Hayek family has lived at their estate for 14 years, playing host to a group of young boys for many nights. Now they’re moving on. To Winston-Salem to be exact. 1422 will be taken over by another family. Another set of lovable dogs. Another litter of kids.
But it won’t be the same.
It’s genuinely an impossible task to try and recap the days and nights we spent at the Hayek household. The late-night talks that lasted for hours. The laughs. Damn, the laughs. The Mountain Dew and Queso Dip from Don Ramon. The Dr. Hayek original chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. We have had some good times. I’m lying — we’ve had the best times.
Times we’ll never forget. Times we’ll tell about — and surely embellish — for years to come. Times we’ll tell our kids about. We’ll recount the time Uncle Luke almost killed me in a wrestling match for a fantasy football draft pick. Or the time a game of Risk lasted for a dozen hours.
Three years ago, the Lord above sent down a snowstorm that would paralyze the South. The planning started days in advance, as soon as the forecasts came out.
Our senior year of high school was winding down, and we wanted to spend as much time together as we could. So the night before the snow came, a group of us came together at 1422. Eight of us, to be exact. The snow did its job and got us out of school for three straight days, three days that we spent in that home.
Our mom’s called and begged us to come home. We got it. Sorry, mom. Today, was our day. And tomorrow, too. Oh, and the next.
We built a ramp. From scratch. Really. We waked into Lowes, bought the wood, came home and built a ramp. That night, as the snow began to fall over the quiet city, we drove to the golf course and hid our prized possession. It was stolen, of course.
After the blizzard made landfall, the fun began. We made an igloo of sorts. Named it Fort Naples. Some girls attacked it the next day. Luke got watery-eyed and legend has it that Will almost killed someone in battle that day.
We played a game of Risk that lasted 14 hours. Tears were literally shed and there might have been some blood. Tyler sabotaged his chances of winning to help out Luke. Chaos ensued.
Ben walked a half-of-a-mile, covering snowy terrain, to pickup “The Notebook.” That night we popped pop corn and watched the chick-flick together. Ben cried like a baby.
The next morning we awoke to a clogged toilet. Charles produced one of the longest and most formidable turds in the history of mankind. An image I’ll never be able to shake. This is no joke — we tried to cut it in half to ease the tension on the pipes with a clothes hanger. Sorry, Mrs. Hayek.
We ran out of drinks and food, so we walked a mile or so to the Food Lion. Sam walked into the Food Lion with a sled full of snow balls while he had some deli ham in his other hand. The look on those employees faces.
We did life right, those days. Nobody spoke about how much it meant. But I promise you, we loved every minute.
Charles said it best when we were recounting on Camp Hayek the other day: “That was one hell of a week.”
I would be remiss if I just harped on those three days — however incredible they may have been.
There were plenty of other nights.
Not always all eight of us.
Sometimes just two. Often four.
We almost got kicked out of Walmart on multiple occasions as we played a game of Assassin that didn’t bode well with their management.
We made Smores. Played Balderdash. Played Family Feud, and laughed at how bad Elliott was. Played poker and tried to not take all of Ben’s money.
We snuck out and drove to McDonalds for french fries and sweet tea. Just so we could.
We played dozens of games of whiffleball in the Marion Elementary parking lot, one ending with a walkoff homerun and a visit from a police car.
We held games of Capture the Flag. We had our Senior Dinner there. We parked our cars there for all of our traveling. Hell, we lived there half the time.
We played until we couldn’t play anymore.
For 14 years, 1422 Stone Gate Drive was our home base. Our center of life, in many ways. Our refuge.
This wasn’t for you.
If you made it this far, I appreciate it. But this wasn’t for you.
Many of these memories were had-to-be-there moments. Many other memories we will never tell to anyone outside of the group.
But they mean the world to us. That house means the world to us.
The events its witnessed, I shutter to even think. I have and I know I will shed a tear. And I’m not one bit sorry. That house was a home. And it always will be. For me. For Sam. For Will. For Ben. For Charles. For Tyler. For Elliott. And, obviously, for Luke.
Boys, this is for you. This is for us.
For no matter where we go, or who owns that plot of land, we have each other.
And I think we’ll make it.