Where to start... It is not an easy task to capture a person so full of life like Mackenzie Knights through words alone, but I will do my best.
I started by writing down all the memories I have of Mackenzie (aka. Kenz, Kenzer, Bobenz, amongst others) and that we share together. Apart from laughing out loud, a handful of themes arose from that exercise, specifically Mackenzie’s fearless and spirited nature and the ceaseless goofy smile and laughter she spread to everyone around her. I think that trying to capture a person so full of life like Kenz is best done through the sharing of stories and memories so below I reminisce on a collection of my favorite memories of Kenzer. While these memories are hers and mine, I believe that anyone who knew Kenz will appreciate reading the stories and smile as they are synonymous with her special personality we all came to love and cherish.
Mackenzie was my best childhood friend. For those who do not know me, Kenz and I grew up in Hanover together through our formative years up until 2008 when my family and I moved. Kenzer and I were thick as thieves and spent nearly every waking hour together.
As kids we played rec soccer together, rec hockey for the Hanover Wild together (Kenz was always much much better than I was or ever was), and ski raced for Ford Sayer together. From grades 1 through 5 we went to the Bernice A. Ray School together and in 3rd grade were both in Mrs. McCoy class (which was awesome because every summer before school when the class rosters were sent out we would immediately call each other to see if we got the same teacher and chat about who was in our class).
One of my favorite memories of Kenzer was when we ski raced. We were at a race at Loon I believe, and us kids were all playing a game like capture the flag, snowball fight or manhunt when this boy threw a wad of burs at Mackenzie’s head. These burs got really stuck in her hair, I mean I remember her telling me it took like 3 bottles of conditioner and 2 hairbrushes to get out. Unable to be resolved at the mountain, let alone before her next race, Kenz loosened her helmet straps as much as she could and had to ski the rest of the day with a head full of burs under her helmet, which now sat about 3 inches above her forehead. Not only was this a funny situation but it was reminiscent of Kenzer’s character. How she happened to get herself into sticky situations, living fearlessly, picking up bumps, bruises and scars along the way, making lemonade out of lemons, and all with a big fat smile on her face laughing all the way.
Since the Knights’ lived close to the Ray School, I spent a ton of time at 15 Meadow Lane. A handful of us girls even started biking to school with Mackenzie’s house as our final stop. I remember I would bike from Greensboro Road to Christine’s house by Dartmouth College and then over to Rip Road where we would pick up Mason and then finish at Meadow Lane before arriving at school. We spent a lot of time there not only because it was close to school but because it was the fun house. The Knights’ had a bunch of gadgets and toys and their backyard was a kid’s dream, they had a trampoline, a tree house, a zipline, a pool and a hot tub.
I can remember jumping on their extra special, super bouncy rectangular trampoline meant for freestyle skiers. There were several bumps and bruises associated with this trampoline from sprained ankles while Kenz taught me how to do cool tricks, to Kenzer’s warts getting scraped off clean, to having the wind knocked out of you after getting double bounced off the trampoline when we would play “Queen of the Tramp.” She was that friend that was never scared to try out a crazy new trick on the trampoline and that friend that was so scrappy in every game we played, getting knocked around and just popping back up. Another example of that would be tube wars at the Mitchell’s lake house, I was such a wimp but never Kenz and Carly, they always wanted Jim to pull us faster and harder.
Up the hill from the trampoline was their not so tree house, tree house, as it wasn’t actually in a tree but was host to hours upon hours of fun. We would clean and sweep that house to the max, carry over a bunch of blankets, pillows, cups and plates to play ‘house’ or have sleepovers. When we got a little bit older (4th and 5th grade, not sure if this was PC or not but hey) and started having crushes on boys, we would invite them over to the tree house and play spin the bottle, truth or dare or 7 minutes in heaven (I remember spending multiple 7 minutes in heaven in there with Konrad). Oh boy and that zipline, what a blast! It connected to the side of the tree house and was also responsible for a handful of bumps and bruises, including the time Sophie fell off and her elbow shot out the side of her arm (not all of us could be as rugged, tough and adventurous as Kenzer).
None of our friends had either a pool or a hot tub so Mackenzie’s house was the spot. I remember countless birthday parties or end of the year pool parties at the Knights’ house where we’d invite all our girlfriends and even our guy friends. That pool was the site of balloon fights, flips off the diving board, breathing contests, and when it would get cold, truth or dare ice plunges. Kenzer, not to our surprise, was always the first one to jump in the freezing water or accept a dare to jump out of the hot tub and make snow angles in the deep 2’ winter snow Hanover got.
Like most of our childhoods, we were really into building forts whether outside in the snow or inside in her basement. The snow forts were constructed either off the cul-de-sac or behind the house along the trail abutting the golf course, and sometimes we’d play scavenger games where we imagined that we were stranded in the tundra. In the basement we would jerry rig the most intensive forts which was probably a nightmare for Betsy and Peter to clean up (sorry guys). Also in that basement was Sims, a computer game Kenz introduced me to and that I shamelessly still play to this day. We would spend hours making families, designing houses, making our sims “woo-hoo,” and killing off our sims with the grim reaper. When we had had enough screen time we would raid the garage that was jam packed with lots of fun toys and spend lots of time roller blading, skate boarding and setting up jumps, scootering, biking around their cul-de-sac, and zipping around on their elector dirt bike in the back trails.
If you knew Mackenzie, she had the biggest sweet tooth, especially for chocolate. We did a lot of baking in the Knights’ kitchen, Kenzer loved we made lots of brownies and other chocolatey concoctions. Whether it was on our way back from school or over the weekend we would walk through the golf course (which in the winter was a great sledding spot) to the Co-op market to buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, where Kenz would always get the Chocolate Fudge Brownie. I will never forget her almost permanent chocolate mustache or the way her hands always smelled of that chocolate fudge brownie ice cream.
Since our parents were good friends too, we would spend a lot of time over there as a family which was a blast for us kids because my little sister Coco and I got along famously with both Carly and Mackenzie. We would take group baths in the master bath tub, watch scary movies in the den (specifically When a Stranger Calls and Campfire Stories), dress Coco up and make her do funny things, and play one of my favorite Knights’ house games, which I sadly forget the name of. We would turn all the lights out, one of us (usually Carly because she was the scaries) would go and hide, we would all count to 60, try to find her, but once we found her she would jump out, scare us, try to catch us and chase us back to our safe zone (which was usually the couch in the playroom).
In addition to family dinners and dinner parties, we also went on a handful of trips together. We went to Vieques with the Knights’, Lubranos, Meyeroses and the Keatings, where a few of the families rented this massive house or “casa.” We went to an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic, where I remember us getting corn rows, running around the resort like hooligans, and getting completely tossed by a wave while embarking on a banana boat excursion. I remember visiting the Knights family in Marco Island a couple times with my mom and sister, inviting my girlfriends to Lake George twice for my birthday, going with Kenz and Betsy, my mom and me to Sanibel to see Juliet and Robin, and hosting Mackenzie in Point o’ Woods where we made a belly-laugh worthy video of her struggling to ride a bike with Sophie, Amanda and George. Again, giggling and smiling into the crash zone.
One of the best family trips was to Canada where I remember learning how to slalom ski (which I always so jealous of Kenzer’s water skiing abilities). I also recall a nail excursion the parents sent us out on to get more ice for their cocktails. Alexander, Juliet, Carly, Mackenzie, Coco and I were on our way back from the store in this aluminum boat when bolts of lightning started lighting up the lake. We ran the boat aground to take shelter inland and the brave ‘man’ of the group, Alexander, going back to the boat to radio home to our drunk, surprisingly unconcerned parents. Long story short, we got home safe and sound.
In addition to family vacations, my first ever concert was with Kenzer when we went to see the Cheetah Girls. If I remember correctly, the Knights, Redican, Keating and Lubrano moms took us daughters to Burlington decked out in cheetah print for the concert. Kenz had the best outfit and was on her feet dancing and singing along the entire time. Not sure if you’ve ever hear Mackenzie sing, but her and I are tone def. Whenever we were in a long car ride we would do solo singing contests, completely serious, and my mom has told me she would have to bite her tongue because the two of us were so terrible but truly believed we were the next Beyoncé.
After I moved to Pittsburgh, we stayed in close contact through middle school and high school. Kenz came to visit Pittsburgh a few times, she even considered boarding at my high school and playing hockey there. Would have loved to have had her and wish we had pushed her a bit harder. She hit it off with my friends there and became pretty close friends with a good guy friend of mine Sam Heaps, who invited her to a couple of his high school formals. They stayed in contact and like many others Bobenz touched in her life, Sam misses her funny, full of life, spontaneous personality.
As I sit here today, writing this note and reminiscing about the friendship we had, I am full of regret for losing touch with Mackenzie over the past few years. She played a huge part of my childhood and a huge role in my life. So many amazing memories, stories and laughs. Her memory will never fade, it lives within me and my family, and I will have a big old smile on my face every time I think of her.
I love you, miss you and will always smile when I think about you and our memories.