My heart is in Havana

Anaïs Nin wrote about Fez, a city in Morocco, in a way that changed how I think about places since then. She described how Fez was full of color, little streets and there were lots of different smells everywhere. Vivid color, sounds. She called it a labyrinth,  mysterious. Warm. A lack of rush, no hurry. She called it a mirror of herself. Buy being there, she also went inside. Roaming the city, she roamed her soul. She got to know herself better, by recognizing herself in her surroundings. By being in that atmosphere, she strengthened those elements in her self. Just one example of her brilliance! Isn't it a great way of thinking about places, about ourselves? Some places make us naturally feel good, or bad. They makes us feel at ease or guarded. What could we learn about ourselves, if we asked why? Why does Belgium feel lonely too often? Why does the African sun feels so so so good, in a way that goes way deeper than just summer vibes? What does that say about me?

I think it says a lot.

Pick a place. Let's make it a city, pick one. Not for its beauty. Not for its palmtrees. Not for its good food. Not for how it look son your instagram. Not for its cliché. Pick a place. For its sense of home. For its messiness. For its realness. Pick a place for how it represents you. Can you? Don't think too much. It might be right were you are, if you are crazy luckyIt might not even exist, or you might not have been there. It might be a long time ago. You might have more than one. You might have been one place two years ago and another one today. Maybe you can't think of anything - and that's good too. Explore and keep your eyes open: untill you see yourself in the streets somewhere, in how the people carry themselves, in how the air smells when you step of the plane.

Mine is Havana for now.

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I see myself in its energy. I see my own dreams in the dreams of its people. The rebel energy. A revolution that turned insecure, but refuses to give up. I can make space for my own contradictions, when I see how well they embrace theirs. Cuba's story is complicated like my own, yet they carry it lightly. Cubans let go - to be, to breathe, to dance. They struggle so hard to be the change they want to see. And they are so proud of it.

Those women are so damn proud. Those buildings stand so proud in their lost glory. They have no idea where it is going, transformation every day, but they make it work. And they call out the beauty of everyone that walks by on the street. It is busy, there is chaos. Spirits live there, in the middle of what socialists tried to make secular. God is there. God, there is an intensity there. But there is such a strong sense of identity too. The combination of intensity and a remembering who I am, it is what keeps me sane.

And when I walk in the dark streets of Central Havana at 4am at night and feel safe, I feel like I walk in myself. When I wake up with the city in the morning, I feel like I wake up to me.

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Symbiosis. Havana is a mix of things that I am, things that I want to become. I lived there, and I left with pride and independence. Strengthened in what I am by something that is outside of me. I become more of me while being there. So does that mean I have to live there? I could. But no. Not for now anyway. But I can work with it.

Let's take our place and let it become a metaphor. You are that place, that place is you. One is a poem for the other. The subtleties of ourselves made tangible. A place we can take others to, to share how we feel inside. So we can drink a mojito with our lover on a square that beats like your heart. A place where we can go back to, to remind ourselves of what we feel like. To feel ourselves when we have lost ourselves. You are that place, that place is you. It is all connected. We make the world in our image, we belong to the world.

Let's take our place and use it to come home to ourselves. By listening to its music. Eating its food. Drinking its drinks. Reading the writers that wrote their.

"My heart is in Havana". On repeat.