My bus rides across Spain were spent staring out the window, finding patterns in the mountains and cloudless sky. You and I aren’t so different, I murmur to the landscape, trying to catalog where I’ve been and how I fit within it. If it weren’t for the bus rides, I wouldn’t have seen Spain like I did. It’s the countryside, the little towns and big vistas of Spain that I like most because it is there that Spain feels most familiar, most like home. For me, home is split between a rural town in Northern California and a tiny house above a West Hollywood garage. There were moments, though, that I couldn’t tell Spain from California and Spain became my home as well.
Spain, too, has the Sierra Nevada. It has rivers, rocks, trees, and cacti just like we do. It’s a big country, full of diverse climates and open spaces. The Spanish desert is painted with little roads people once passed through and a trip to Mojave will prove the same here. Tourists line the beaches, burning themselves just as they do in Malibu, with just as many drinking themselves into a stupor under the hot sun.
Sure the longest-standing buildings in Los Angeles are no older than a century, while Spain is littered with ruins of the Roman Empire, early Christianity and medieval Islam. But the same spirit has persisted in both places; the earth has been altered and transformed for religion and power, and both Los Angeles and Spain are built on the remnants.
It feels like there is a string connecting Spain to California. An obvious answer would be that, yes, in fact, the Spanish created that connection when they sailed their asses over here to colonize the land that looked so much like their own but certainly was not. And surely the tensions of that time still persist, just like the name they gave it. But it has also proven how similar two places on opposite sides of the world can be. I have trouble separating my mental images of Spain from my road trips across California. In both places we see the same things, in both places we speak a Spanish tongue, and I imagine our thoughts can’t be too far from each other either.