Café con leche was my first tangible piece of an experience in España; little did I know that it would be the first of many, dozens… And as I took my third sip of coffee, I remember this clearly, I look up to see Chloe smiling at me. Clearly and with excitement, we were together again for weeks abroad, on a journey unprecedented for myself.
On the public bus, headed toward the city center from BCN, I was constantly recognizing skate spots from the magazines I study. As if the tricks I’d seen captured in the past were happening live in front of me, I imagined those moments with more clarity and stoke than I'd realized I could. Probably to the dismay of Chloe, my eyes were locked on the outside world. The landscape of a brand new city, an international skateboarding hub, no less. The graffiti walls lining the freeways began to transform into a mish mosh of storefronts, homey stoops and foot traffic … people watching. Granted the 10-hour flight had me feeling in an odd mood, the stoke was real and that bus was not getting to its destination quickly enough! It was time to battle off the jet lag with partying. A solid meal and several glasses of wine.
A friend Chloe had previously made, Kaevon, met with us for (a much-needed) dinner, so we wandered off to find a good-looking restaurant offering tapas. For that first meal, we were not being price-conscious, and we ordered whatever the fuck we wanted. A couple bottles of nice wine, six or seven tapas, all delicious, maybe a few more after that… The meal was a celebration of my arrival and of Kaevon’s last night in Europe. A bittersweet acknowledgment of human experience, both budding & concluding.
The air conditioning was non-existent in the dorm, so each night was a new game of "which position is most pleasant to sweat in?” Waking up was always alarming until you realized that you’re in Barcelona with a full day ahead of you! Finding a place that would exchange my dollars for Euros was an adventure that first full day we had together in Spain. It led us to seeing a lot of the city, specifically the Gothic Quarter for quite some time. Tourism in Barcelona in late July is about as hot as it gets, so our objective became to see the coolest the city had to offer while avoiding as much tourist mass as possible. It became a game, something that we knew we would never win but that we could improve at over time. A valuable skill used throughout the rest of our time in Europe.
Stumbling across MACBA was amazing. I knew the general direction but forgot about it for a few hours when I saw that gap over the trash can (skate nerds will understand). One of the “holy grails” of mainstream skateboarding culture was right there, under my feet. Seeing the skaters from all over the world (I’d confirm this later in the week when I returned with my skateboard) was a truly cool experience, and it quickly made me feel anonymous in a real international city (which I like). There was a moment when I realized, these guys are from all over the world, none of them is better than any of the others, we’re all here for the same reason, and I’m nothing without the greater group. The community there was robust and unique, like the exotic species of fish you might see in an fish tank together. You hope that they’re all friends, even if they don’t speak the same language. They’re in it together for the sake of that passion (for skateboarding in this case), and the language barrier is barely a barrier at all.
The unknown was all around us, and our hunger for all of it was as strong as I’d felt since I moved away from home at 18 years old. It was time for at least 50 more days of this, in at least five different countries, together.
This is a whole new volume.
- 7Ply Epic