I used to bring up my troubles around Austin, and he would just laugh. Somehow, strangely enough, that usually made things better.
Was walking back late from lab and had the Austinian urge to keep walking. Dumped my stuff off at the apartment and paced around the nearby park- not the same as walking the tens of miles that Austin was fond of, but still a wonderful experience. The stars were so bright tonight, even with Chicago's light pollution. Breathtakingly beautiful crisp air, with each exhalation's smoke curling off into the night sky with the biting breeze. Can feel the cold lingering in your bones, but it feels good, knowing you have somewhere warm to return to. Miss you, Austin.
dark spiraling staircase to the top- luckily for me, the key hadn't been changed, and I emerged onto the Observatory deck, the white dome housing the telescope covered in layers of silky snow. The sky was cloudy and I couldn't see the stars, but I had a perfect view of the Christmas-lights decking the quad-trees. It was gorgeous and just what I needed. The wind was blowing south-east and bringing fog along the coast-line; Chicago was reduced to a lighted blur. A few people wandered along the quad (I resisted the temptation to throw snowballs at them), but for the most part everyone was gone, home. There's nothing as refreshing or beautiful as a normally hectic place reduced to a quiet winter landscape, blanketed in snow.
Just taking the time to walk outside and look at the white campus was the best part of my week. Thank you, Austin.
Fall is the time for college recruiters to visit Albuquerque Academy to speak with prospective students.
Today we had a visit from Andrea Mondragon, our rep from the University of Chicago. Despite her busy schedule for the afternoon, Andrea wanted to go out to our Medicine Wheel on campus after she was done talking to our current seniors. She brought a small token from the Univeristy of Chicago, which she left at the Medicine Wheel in memory of Austin. It was a glorious day, and we shared some thoughts and memories of him in the serenity of this beautiful place.
I am proud to say that I have the treasured memory of seeing Austin ... dance.
We had discussed dancing a few times before, during lunch conversations about what the different art credit possibilities were (which, as it turns out, dance is not actually one of them. Oops), and his contribution to the conversation was always to shake his head vigorously - scrunched eyebrows and all - and say something to the effect of "yeah, I can't dance". When I pointed out that no one in any of these intro art credit classes was actually expected to be good at whatever they were learning, his response was simply his classic "eh"+shrug (the combination he used whenever he disagreed with you or was uncertain about something you said).
To my delight, spring quarter of second year came around, and in the middle of our Introduction to Western Art Music course, the professor suddenly announced one day that she wanted us to try a new type of learning: she wanted us to "feel and depict" the nuances in the music by choreographing a dance to the fourth movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. She split the class up into two - the dancers and the judges (why she thought it was a good idea to have half the class embarrass themselves by actually trying the assignment and the other half just sit around and not have to do anything is beyond me... but that's a topic for another time). Austin and I ended up in the dancers group, partly because we were a little slow at declaring our objections, and partly because we weren't averse to embarrassment and thought it might end up being fun.
Our group of 7 or 8 was given about 5 minutes to make something up - a daunting task, as although by this point we all knew the music well, none of us had any experience choreographing at all. We managed to come up with an intro where we would come out (marching and swaying to the music) from behind the curtain onto the "stage", which is how the transition from the 3rd to 4th movement felt to us. We discussed characterizing the rhythm and tempo of the rest of the piece with certain movements, and having one distinct dance move per theme... and then we ran out of time and ended the planning session with "screw it, we'll just wing it".
And that's pretty much what happened. I'd love to report that what transpired was as majestic as the movement itself (my personal favorite of the four), and that we successfully translated the music to dance in the supremely long 5 minutes we were given... but as you can probably guess, that didn't happen. After the intro, we essentially awkwardly cracked up... and just danced whatever moves popped into our minds (which doesn't sound too bad off hand, but remember, we were doing this in front of a sitting panel of "judges", who I'm pretty sure are probably now scarred for life)
I'll hand it to Austin - he was right. He knew where his talents were and were not, and, as many natural talents as he did have, dancing just wasn't one of them. But even then, he was in the very front laughing and doing big, sweeping movements the entire time. No shyness, no shame. Just enjoying the absurdity of the situation for what it was.
Austin and I went to a lot of concerts together. This past spring, for example we went to around six concerts at the Chicago symphony orchestra. With other friends the music might have stopped there and the evening when we got back to our respective apartments, but for us the music and the night would end in his room. We would go back to his place to listen to his favorite recording off of YouTube of a piece or a musician who he had mentioned during intermission. We would lie on his bed, listening until I got all musiked out for the evening. Although I always loved music, my taste was limited to largely pre-classical when I started college. My friendship with Austin forced me to expand as a listener and, therefore, as a musician.
One thing I always admired about Austin was his unconditional willingness to help others solve problems. It was most apparent to me on the many occasions when I was stumped by a homework problem, either because it was difficult or because I couldn't read the question in the grainy picture I had taken of the library's copy of the textbook. My last resort was always to text or message Austin for hints and clarification. I will always be grateful for the depth of his responses, no matter the question, and no matter how late I asked for them. One night he typed up half the IChem problem set, a solid page and a half of text, so I could work on the problems. It always seemed like he was bursting to share anything he learned, especially with people who understood it and especially when it helped others. On the few occasions I figured out a problem and he didn't I was eager to return the favor. When I think of Austin, I remember to share my knowledge unconditionally with the world.
In my family, there is a tradition that mushy bananas are not discarded or baked but rather peeled, placed into a large bowl, mashed together (a spoon works nicely), to then be gloriously microwaved into an oblivion of saccharine substance that our family affectionately calls "banana mush". Upon hearing of my family's quasi-dessert, Austin was skeptical but interested. And so one evening that Austin and I were loitering in his apartment following his delicious enchilada dinner, I noted with glee that Austin had bananas in his apartment, and could make good of his promise to try "banana mush". Unfortunately, these bananas weren't ripe enough to make a good banana mush, and the final product was less than desirable. But Austin was brave enough to eat the microwaved banana and still dub it "interesting". It reminds me that adventures can extend beyond the great outdoors to every aspect of our lives, even the mundane quotidian, including what and how we chose to eat. Austin took great joy in learning and executing new recipes; and he certainly didn't shy away from the oddity of microwaved bananas (despite his earlier childhood inclinations to eat only white, bland foods). Try something new to eat! (And if it's microwaved bananas, make sure that you watch the microwave- they boil over really easily).
As I was driving across the plains and short grass prairies of eastern Colorado, thunderstorms brewed to the north. The wide open view made it easy to watch the storms develop and sheets of rain pour to the earth. They did not fall straight down, though; they came down in curved ribbons with upper winds blowing one direction and the surface winds blowing them in another. The lightening bolted from the clouds to the ground and back up. It was beautiful to watch and amazingly the storms moved east as I drove east and I never drove into them. I felt Austin's spirit that day and appreciated the strength and beauty of the weather more because of him.
Collecting stories so that everyone can see who Austin Hudson-Lapore was to each of us.