Home : What’s the most interesting place you’ve been? – Nick Troy – Medium
I wrote this essay as part of an application for a travel writer job last year. Not what they were looking for, perhaps, but a great opportunity for a rambling wanderer to work through a complicated question.
Growing up in Ethiopia, Maryland, Texas, and The Philippines means my relationship with travel is a bit complicated. More than anything, it feels like home.
The most interesting place I’ve been is on the road. In-between. Not yet there, no longer here. My earliest memory is screaming my lungs out on an airplane, the pressurized cabin pummeling my tiny ears from within. The american interstate system is a slideshow of memories. Family road trips to countless churches, movie soundtracks blaring in our old minivan as I munched fruit snacks and tapped on my Gameboy.
But every trip has a destination and like every good chameleon, I adapt to my new reality. And with each new normal comes a longing for more…
The most interesting place I’ve been is somewhere else. Melting into the sheltered comfort and stability of suburban Maryland, I long for the dust and noise and struggle and organic chaos of the streets of Nairobi. Working too many hours for too many days on set in Hollywood, I miss the timelessness of a slowly unfolding communal meal of injera bi wot on a lazy Sunday in Addis Ababa. In the dead of winter, trapped indoors under layers of wool, I ache for a the sunny, sticky warmth of a Puerto Galera beach, shirt and shoes not required.
But eventually every there becomes here. So it’s not about where, but what here means to me. It’s the fear of forgetting, the need to remember…
The most interesting place I’ve been reminds me who I am. Reclaiming lost chapters from my meandering life story, awakening parts of me long dormant or yet undiscovered. A statue of Saint Francis in a courtyard reminds me of the time I was institutionalized. A culture-shocked 21yr old in crisis, the sturdy walls of my childhood faith crumbling under the weight of my expanding perspective. Fierce faith and naive compassion, a suburban prophet taking the words of Jesus too literally for such a complicated world.
But remembering alone isn’t enough. The value of the past is in the future, through its ability to bring change in the present…
The most interesting place I’ve been brings perspective. The year was 2001, my sophomore year of college on a semester abroad in Kenya. My rude awakening began with the entitled disconnection of some of my fellow exchange students. But the real shocker was seeing the missionary community — my people — from the outside. Segregation. Cultural imperialism. Systemic paternalism. I now had a new lens through which to view my childhood. The first few pebbles rolling down the hill, an avalanche in the making. Questions. Perspectives. A spark igniting a lifelong exploration of truth, justice, culture, and identity. Travel was the context, but the real journey is inside.
We all walk our own path, wherever we are. Because every story everywhere happens in one place…
The most interesting place I’ve been is right here, right now.
Because that’s all there is.
On my best days, for fleeting moments, I remember that.
But in the meantime, I’ll be on the road.
Because we all need reminders.