By the time seventh grade rolled around, my friends and I had formed a pretty solid group. I remember how my dad used to always warn me not to become closer to those guys than my brothers, but he stopped saying that when he realized we’d all stay friends forever (“forever” here meaning throughout the end of our lifetime—it’s been twelve years since this story and we’re all still just as close). There was one guy, however that I just didn’t like.
His name was Jordan Crews and he was a new to the group. Looking back, the only reason I ever had to dislike him was that he dated a girl I had a crush on—which he would go on to do several times over in high school.
One day after school we all walked over to hang out at Carson’s house. On this one fateful day, Carson invited Jordan Crews to join. Jordan had spent some time with the group without me and as much as I tried to suppress my ego, I was jealous that someone was getting in without my approval. I had to see what this new guy was about.
The fun didn’t start until we found a large cement drainage tunnel underneath one of the roads towards the back of the neighborhood. From the road to the bottom of the tunnel was probably six or seven feet. There were some loose rocks on either side of the tunnel and like the adolescent boys we were—we decided it’d be fun to throw them at each other.
Carson was the biggest and the most athletic so we put him with Christian who was the smallest and least athletic (sorry Christian). So naturally that left Jordan and I to be a team of rock hurlers (much to my dismay). The game required standing on opposite sides of the road down in the flat area where the water entered and exited the circular drainage tunnel and lobbing rocks over the road at each other.
Tentative at first, we called out warnings when a rock was about to fly. We threw palm-sized rocks one at a time until we all felt comfortable enough in our reflexes to avoid the incoming debris. As things go, the rock throwing slowly escalated to more rocks—but we always yelled when a rock was being thrown, that was only fair.
Adrenaline and pure joy overwhelmed us.
There are very few of my friends with whom I can pinpoint the exact moment of a lifelong friendship occurring, but Jordan Crews is one such example. We laughed crazily as we tried to kind-of-hurt our friends.
Eventually we all got tired of not hitting each other and Christian was (of course) the first to make a more aggressive play. He ran from his side of the drainage ditch, and crossed the road with a handful of rocks in his hind.
Christian always strikes first, but almost always loses.
His handful of rocks proved fruitless as, in his manic state, he missed Jordan Crews and I with literally every rock he threw. We retaliated and Christian was hit once or twice and that was the end of the game.
It sounds violent and I’m sure my mother would have sighed deeply had she seen our version of “hanging out,” but there was never any violent intent.
At the edge of the road was a small strip of grass over the concrete slab where Carson and Christian had just been hurling rocks. The four of us sat and talked for a bit about girls, wolves, music, and whatever else we talked about in those days.
We casually pulled rocks from underneath the grassy strip and threw them at the cement to see them explode on impact. Some did, some didn’t and it was great fun. The rocks got progressively bigger as we realized the grassy strip we were sitting on was full of larger ones we could pry from the soil.
Eventually Jordan Crews put his hand on what we all thought was a boulder. We told him several times there was no way he was going to dig out this giant rock—but he was fully committed. It was probably 3 or 4 girl stories later by the time he actually pried the rock from the ground. To sixth grade boys, it was huge—about the size of a human head.
Jordan did the best thing he could think of and he lifted it high above his head and threw the rock at the cement pad beneath us.
What happened next was pure magic.
The rock made impact and split into two perfectly equal halves with a middle divide that was the smoothest, most flawless split you could ever imagine.
Excited screams and scurrying down to the base of the cement pad ensued. We picked up the two halves and examined them for what seemed like hours. They were perfect. While different shapes on the exterior, each rock was perfectly identical in size and smoothness of the split. We couldn’t believe it.
The only logical question left was who was going to keep each half. Treasures like this weren’t just left or buried for some other kids to steal—we had to protect this miracle.
There was an awkward moment. Four boys, two miracle rocks. Several options were discussed, all of which involved Jordan Crews keeping one. After all, he had unearthed the beast and split it with his might.
“Well, why don’t I keep one and Jordan (me) keeps one. After all, this is like the first time we’ve hung out and we’re both named Jordan,” he said.
For those who need translation, this is how middle school boys say, “I think I just made a great friend for life. Take this miracle rock as a sign of friendship.”
And it was done. I kept the rock and still have it to this day. Jordan and I have been friends ever since.
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