I’m bad at having favorites. I’ve never had a best friend, but a handful of very, very close friends. I have a favorite movie, but not a favorite band or song or color or pair of jeans. I don’t even have a favorite meal. I like a lot of things, in a lot of different ways. Usually, I think it’s because my memories of things change, and I know that they’re not the most accurate representation of those things. “Favorite” is a big thing, in my head, and it encompasses more than what it labels, but the feelings and associations that I have with something.
Growing up, if someone asked me my favorite place, I might have said the beach or my grandparents’ house, but without any real conviction. I’m not a very well-traveled person. I visited London last year, and went to Montana the year before, but other than that, I have stayed close to New England.
My alma mater is in Massachusetts, my home state, and less than a three-hour drive from my town. It is a beautiful, amazing, phenomenal place. It’s my favorite place in the world.
When I was seventeen, and the weekend in which I needed to decide where I was going to college came upon me, I let the decision overwhelm me. With my options narrowed down to two schools, I cried for what felt like a solid twenty-four hours. When my head cleared and I accepted my choice as the right one, I immediately felt better. Eight years later, I am so grateful for that moment of clarity.
The thing is, I couldn’t have known then how and why that place would come to mean so much to me. That is tied up in my memories. My memories are amalgamations of people and emotions and things that happened and things that didn’t happen. That place means laughter and comfort and all of the growing I did to become the person writing this now.
A good number of alums return to that area to live and work after graduating. I thought about it, too, for a time. But I know that returning would change how that place looks and feels in my mind. It would color over my memories in a different hue. It might not be bad, but that place would mean something different, then. It would feel different, and it might stop being my favorite place.
Do we need memories to remain static? Memories change on their own, over time. It can’t be helped. Should we let ourselves change them, on top of that natural progression? I think that my favorite place is such for a reason, and it means enough to me that I want to keep those memories and feelings as pure as I can. That way, I can return to those memories, and that place, to experience them again.
I can continue to move forward in my life, but I can always take a moment to look back.
This was originally written in March of 2014.