On the road to Tacuarembo, more than a week ago, all I saw was land and big agriculture operations. On the road to Salto, I saw land and rural schools, each with a small cross above the gate even though 47 percent of this country declares itself atheist or non-religious.
On the road to Corrientes, back in Argentina, it's poorer. The land looks drier. It's more shrub land, like no one knew what to do with it. There are citrus groves and a string of towns whose names all seem to begin with M. They're all set up the same - we turn right off the highway Go straight down an asphalt road for a few minutes, then right on a dirt road to the small bus station where people buy soda and alfajores. On the way out, the bus hits a low-hanging tree and branches fall on the roof with the sound I remembering my Lincoln logs making when I dumped them out on our floor.
Back to the highway, passing cows. Knowing how these cattle might be corralled later today makes the fields less alluring, maybe, but more comfortable. Like the way you take your drive to school for granted.
Somewhere around these cows, I was afraid to press play on Every Girl by Turnpike Troubadours. Afraid it would release some confused nostalgia.
I played that song on repeat for a time of transition, two months after college graduation. It was equally the joy of a wide open Colorado mountain trip with good friends and then the emptiness, two weeks later, of walking wide Brooklyn avenues at midday looking for a hardware store to buy a bucket in which to bleach the cow skull I brought back from that trip.
I ran around Prospect Park with the song in my ears and then called my parents sobbing and hollow bellied wondering why I had moved to New York to live in a place full of strollers and smoke shops and other recent college graduates wearing librarian glasses, nothing I knew, nothing I loved.
And now here I am alone on a bus in Argentina writing about where I am so as to forget I'm not really sure.