So, What Was Your Favorite Part?

I get this question a lot.

All the time, in fact.

Before I left, there was a standard set of questions people would ask: What’s your route? How are you traveling? Where will you stay? Who are you going with? What about your job?

Now that I’m home there’s just the one: What was your favorite part?

I have always had a problem with the concept of “favorite.” I admit to using the word in a hyperbolic way from time to time. And I’m not above having certain favorites. Actually, I might just have one favorite. Root Beer. Root Beer is definitely my favorite carbonated beverage. I like many others, but if you were to tell me that I can only have one for the rest of my life, that’s the one I’d choose.

Root BeerBut for most things I have no favorite, and I can’t imagine how I could. I don’t even have a favorite root beer (some brands are better with appetizers at a party while others are well-suited towards cleaning the house). I don’t have a favorite movie, because how can you compare The Shawshank Redemption with Strictly Ballroom? I don’t have a favorite style of music because sometimes you’re in the mood for Bob Dylan and sometimes you need Janet Jackson. I understand certain elements of experience rising above the others (see above re: root beer), but I can’t imagine having a favorite thing for all the things I’m supposed to have favorites.

So with that in mind, I took four months of my life to ride on the wind and explore every corner of this huge country that I could. Eighty different sleeping locations and 1952 waking hours of adventure, and people actually think I could pick a favorite?

Was the sunrise better with my sister from below the rim of the Grand Canyon, or with a United Nations of strangers on top of a mountain overlooking the Atlantic ocean?

Was it more fun rafting the Rogue River or swimming with sharks?

Did I prefer catching up with my childhood friend Marc or my college friend Sarah Ruth?

Was it more moving to stand where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, or inside a train boxcar at the National Holocaust Museum?

On a small and limited scale, I might be able to tell you my favorite part of Savannah, but probably not my favorite part of Toronto. I could tell you the best dessert I had, but not the best dinner. I could say that camping in Texas was great because I fell asleep looking at the stars. But then again I could say that sleeping on a couch in Oakland was great because I woke up to the sound of juggling pins.

Cherry PieIn the grand scope of my trip, as in my life, there are no favorites. There is no best. There is the day in Maine when you felt so welcomed, and there is the day in Topeka when you felt so scared. And there are all the days in between, where a thousand of your favorite things happen with every passing moment. Like cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels, the best you’ll ever be able to do with your favorite things is make a long, unending list.