I was browsing the racks at a little boutique in Meredith, NH, when a store clerk struck up a conversation. She asked if I was on vacation.
“Do you travel often,” she continued.
“When I can,” I replied, offhandedly.
Then she asked a question that completely disarmed me: “What’s your favorite place to travel?”
To her, this seemed like idle chit-chat. But it struck me as deeply personal. If she had asked me my weight or if I believed in God, it wouldn’t have felt more intrusive.
I lied, said something about Arizona’s desert landscape (lovely, yes, but my favorite?), and made my way out of the store and into a neighboring bar.
While I sipped a beer, I wondered: Why had this simple question rattled me? And what is my favorite place?
Panicked, I searched my brain for an answer. Looking over London from the rooftop of St. Paul’s? Exploring the labyrinth of the Metropolitan Museum in New York? Winding up the California coast along US 101? Riding the ferry out to Block Island to spend day at the beach? None of it seemed quite right.
And the idea of choosing felt strange, felt wrong. Like picking your favorite child. Who could do such a thing?
Not me, I decided.
Maybe I haven’t found my favorite place yet. Then again, maybe I have. Either way, next time I’m asked, I’ll be better prepared.
I might say, “I’m not sure,” or perhaps, “My next trip is my favorite, I going to ________ this summer.”
Or maybe I’ll turn it around, and ask, “What’s yours?”
Because really, it’s not such a bad question.