Barton Springs by Simeon Griffin

We pull up to our home a little after 1am. Just on the side of the road, we are sleeping in the car tonight. Austin City Limits is in a couple of days and it won't be until tomorrow night that our host's room will be open for us. So we make the most of it and curl up together in the back seat and fall asleep in each other's arms. 

Voices of our neighbors taking their morning stroll, wake us up in the morning. Our car isn't hidden and they most certainly see the car packed to the brim with bags, blankets, and food. It looks like one of those vehicles that you pass on the highway that says more or less, "Yup, we are living in here." I kiss my lover and we make our way down to Barton Springs, a natural spring in Austin, Texas that we would hop in later that weeked to cool off in between the various sets including the likes of Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. I listen to rap, my better half and my best friend has a little wider taste when it comes to music.

We walk barefoot on the rocks to get to the base of the stream. My feet are still tender from the sleep. "It'll get them nice and tough," she says to me. I step lightly and keep saying statements of regret like, "I wish I brought my sandals," and "This ----ing hurts."

The rising sun is sweetly kissing the cold water causing a mist to rise up from the stream. It is just us down here and we start pulling off our clothes. There's something about being naked that keeps you on your toes. It's not a sex thing. It's a freedom thing, an Adam and Eve thing. It is the aspect of being blatant with the world, saying, "This is me. I'm okay with me. You can be okay with me and I'm okay with you."

We get in the water and start moving, because yes, it is cold. We are swimming in and out and circling each other, closing our eyes at the sun and bathing in the two extreme temperatures, when two dogs bound down the trail, followed closely by the voices of their owners. Kelly is on the shore right now just vibrant in all of her glory. 

"Babe. People," I say and wave at her to get back in. 

We swim out to the deep center and tread water as these two humans and dogs proceed to play fetch maybe a dozen or so feet from us.

"They'll leave soon," We keep saying to each other, trying to get back to the zen mixture of the cool water and warm sun.

But no.

Another dog runs down, followed by her human.

"What do we do? What do we do?" 

"Go get our clothes," Kelly says to me.

But humans are just a few feet from our stuff and the water is two feet deep and crystal clear over there.

Then the unthinkable. Maybe not that dramatic, but to two naked people, it felt pretty dramatic. All thoughts of freedom and Adam and Eve have been tossed from my mind as I watch 13 men and women with saws, weed-eaters, and trash bags walk down the path to the river. They are the river crew there to keep things nice for the hippies that bathe here. They circle up and start doing stretches, getting ready for their work a little ways down from our clothes.

"I'll meet you at that rock," I say pointing to a little bend in the river as I swim over to our clothes. 

I can picture the whole neighborhood coming down the path soon. Little kids and tourists taking pictures. It's now or never and I don't want to spend my time stuck in a creek. I get over to the water and drag my ass along the rocks to the shore. Giving the dog owners a nice view of the side of my hip. I smile at the lady closest to me, not in a creepy way, but in a sorry-we-are-naked sort of way.

I grab pants and a towel and swim over to our meeting place, holding these two garments over my head in an odd sort of victory. We go back to our thoughts of Adam and Eve as we dry out in the sun, eating our breakfast and drinking our tea, sharing our own little moments together.

EssaysSimeon Griffin