this is what they mean when they say it

I love the version of The Fountainhead that is on my bookshelf, with its folded corners and a curled back page that elevates it a little in the middle. I love it because it’s mine. I remember reading it that first year in Midtown as I rode the subway home. And I remember carrying it around wondering what Ayn Rand was thinking when she put such complex characters together. It was the first book that had ever made me love a character that I didn’t entirely understand. And it was possibly the first time that I felt the urge to grasp someone so different from myself rather than judge them.

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It was the first book that I had ordered on Amazon to my New York City apartment. It was my first literary commitment (~1000 pages) as an adult. It’s gone from apartment to apartment, uptown, across town, and way down south to the tropics. My simple mind expanded and I was forever grateful to the copy that did it.

That copy that I once almost traded in for a trendy hardcover. That copy that I kept for no practical reason at all.

I love my legs, these muscular, slightly bulky, non-model legs that I hated for so long. These legs that are not so great in heels, but shine in sneakers. I love them because they can run and when I need them to, they can run fast. These legs that itch to move, and don’t give up on me until I reach the finish line. These legs that school the rest of my body when dancing. These legs that trap all the good, heavy notes and play them back into the ground, back out into the world. These legs that don’t miss a second of the musical flutter and glide across the floor–any floor, any surface–so joyfully. These legs that I used to hate and now love.

I love living in my home country. A place that I dreaded coming back to for so long. I love that I opened myself up to seeing what it had to offer. I loved confirming that it’s true, yes, home heals wounds–if you let it.

I loved realizing that coming home is never really as bad as they say it is (whatever the consensus may be). And I’m happy having figured out that when it is a little more complicated than it has to be, it really is more about how life works than about where you are. We make our homes. I love that being here taught me how to stop contributing to the creation of a society (and situations) that I came to dread. I love that it made me realize that I was a part of the “everybody” that I would shun and I had to shift as well.

I love this place on earth that I am now that gave me the encounters and people I didn’t know I needed, the challenges that would offer me so much light, and the warm air that breathed life back into me day after day. This home that taught me how to love all the homes that will follow.

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This home which I used to dread; a home I wouldn’t, nay, couldn’t have rediscovered if I hadn’t come back. Making amends with this place gave me a sense of peace no other place on earth can give.

And once you have that, once you lose that dread and ridiculous resentment of places, stages, situations, and times, it doesn’t matter where you go next or what’s going on because all this love’ll come with you.

This is what they mean when they it, when they say, “Love yourself first.”

It sounds corny and vague, at least it always did to me until I starting loving things in my life that I had always neglected, criticized, and overlooked. The very things, that in my mind, had always made it worse.

That’s what they mean! Fuck! I get it now! That’s what they mean.

There are things to love here, now, and they evolve when you do. *


About Antonella Saravia

Antonella is a New York based writer from Nicaragua.

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