I love Jack Johnson. His songs always make me think of Austin. "Good People" came out in 2005, the summer before my good friend Amy left for the Peace Corps in Africa. Not many of our friends were around that summer, the summer before my senior year of college, and she and I spent almost every day together. Because she was reluctant to get a steady job mere months before leaving the country, Amy was temping that summer, which resulted in an erratic schedule. I had three different jobs, all part-time and all pieced together, which was also a very strange schedule. We didn't have any money so we kind of invented things to do that were either dirt cheap or free. I was living in a really crummy apartment that I sublet from a friend of a friend and Amy was living in an awesome sublet off Barton Springs road, walking distance from Barton Springs pool.
One of the dirt cheap things we did often during that hot dusty summer was cool off by taking a dip in Barton Springs pool, which was (and still is, as far as I know) $3, including in and out privileges. We'd slather ourselves with 45 SPF sunscreen, trek down there with our deflated blow-up floats, grab a spot on the grass, huff and puff to blow those things up until we were blue in the face and feeling very light-headed, and stroll down to the water. The pool temperature hovers at a natural 68 degrees year-round, which is shockingly refreshing if you've been blowing up person-sized flotation devices in the 100+ degree heat. I can't even imagine what submerging yourself in that water in anything but 100+ degree weather must feel like and I don't want to find out. After a few minutes of bobbing around in the water, you are sure to be blue-lipped and ready for some warm rays of sun. We'd launch ourselves out onto the floats (we took to calling them lesbian flotation devices because we matched and would float around with our feet hooked into each other's so as not to get separated) and drift around all afternoon, pausing only to roll over or apply more sunscreen.
I remember having picnics at the park at Barton Springs. This is another reason Amy and I get along so well--we both like to do dorky things like have picnics in parks. We'd stop by the brand new Whole Foods world headquarters, pick up sandwiches and drinks, and head to the park with a book and a blanket each. One time, as we were driving up through the parking lot, there was a man with a HUGE white dog standing in the distance. We exclaimed over this simultaneously, me saying something like "Wow that's a big dog!" and Amy saying something to the effect of "Why does he have a cow in the park?"
Experimental cooking nights were my favorite. Amy is a fantastic cook. She can make pizza dough, from scratch, and actually toss the pizza dough up in the air and then catch it again. I was always very impressed by this skill. We'd invite a bunch of friends over to her apartment, pop in Sports Night (which I also discovered that summer via Amy) and make a delicious feast. Rather, we'd all watch and pick at stuff while Amy made a delicious feast. We'd sit around with a bottle of wine and talk about The Future in very vague and distant terms, like it wasn't less than a year away for most of us. I remember thinking that I'd figure it out in the next year of school. Ha. I'm still working on that one.
Amy had a list of things that she wanted to do before she left for Africa, so we purchased Chacos at Whole Earth, tried the purple margarita at Baby Acapulco's (word to the wise, don't), drank many mexican martinis at Trudy's (good thing my apartment was within walking distance because those will knock you on your a**), went to the Lake Austin Boulevard Goodwill, enjoyed the greenery and sculptures at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, went to the free summer musical in the park (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?), got shaved ice from the sno-cone stand run entirely by beautiful bored westlake high school girls, ate gallons of Kerbey Queso at Kerbey Lane Cafe, got ice cream at Amy's Ice Cream on 6th street, went to First Thursday on South Congress, ate our way through all four Kerbey Lane Cafe locations, danced around in the parking lot as the rains finally came down after the worst drought in several years, and then said goodbye as school started and Amy shipped out.
My friends came back to town and I moved into a new house with two new roommates. School started and the whirlwind that was my senior year picked up immediately. The heat abated ever so slightly. I still missed Amy a lot. I remember sitting in my car in traffic on Guadalupe and hearing "Good People" come on the radio. Hearing that song made me tear up every single time.
Amy came back to Austin and still lives there today, so this isn't some sob story about how my friend went to Africa and never came back. Its more of a story about how the best summer of my life and the last time I didn't have responsibilities and worries left and never came back. And I really wish it would.