1) One of the first things he ever asked me was "Do you have abnormally shaped feet?" because I told him all of my shoes were uncomfortable. He didn't understand how I could choose to suffer for fashion, so in his blunt, oblivious, and compassionately concerned way, he sought another explanation.
2) He never wore a coat, not even in the middle of the brutal Chicago winters, choosing to layer sweaters instead. When I asked him why he didn't just bundle up in some puffy coat, he said "If I walk fast enough, nothing feels cold."
3) He was proud of his family and his school, and they were the only things he bragged about. If I complained about my high school experience, he would openly respond that he couldn't understand because his academy was wholesome. He told me that New Mexico didn't have a great education system, and he felt so lucky that he got the best of it. He talked about Albuquerque Academy as an extension of UChicago, a necessary precursor for the development of his intellectual mind. He also talked about his family, and how smart, accomplished, and warm they all were. He bragged about his sister and her prestigious double enrollment and the hours of work she put into it. During lunch this year, I told him I felt like there weren't enough strong women role models out in the science world because of gender discrimination. He said his mom broke the mold and strove to achieve a prestigious career in science against all odds, and he was proud of her. One time when I joked that I wasn't sure my dad supported all of my academic decisions, he flatly said "I can't relate. My dad's not like that."
4) He loved his cats, and was pretty competitive about them. Sometimes we'd compare photos of our cats, and he would say his were prettier.
5) His laugh was fast, high, and loud. When he broke into laughter, his whole face changed, like it was lit from behind.
6) As direct and blunt as he was, he was one of the most thoughtful people I knew. When I got hit by a car in January, he asked about me while I was in the hospital, and later that month, asked about my job interviews, hopeful that I would get everything I wanted.
7) He hated commercials so much he refused to watch television or even Hulu. When I confessed that I was thinking of pursuing a career in advertising, he adopted a pensive expression and explained that he could work with me. It was okay for me to do soulless work if I was kind and good to the world in my personal life. He was a real idealist, however, and felt that I could find a meaningful job that made me happy and would allow me to positively impact the world in both my public and private lives.
8) He loved his research, and jumped at any opportunity to talk about. More than that, he loved hearing about other people's research even if it was totally outside of his field.
9) He never went anywhere in the winter without his knit hats, which came all the way down to his eyebrows.
10) Whenever we crossed paths on the quads, he'd always wave, smile, and stop to say hello, even if he was headed to class.
I don't there's a single world that encapsulates Austin, so here are some I've come up with: wholesome, honest, idealistic, serious, upbeat, adventurous, nature-loving, good-natured, sharp, direct, blunt, analytical, and oddly domestic.