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February 2016

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A Fork in the Road

Sometimes procrastination isn’t an end in itself. Sometimes it takes some time to realize why we’re putting off something in particular. Take, for example, my license. I’ve been in Texas two years now for graduate school and planning to stay for another year to save up money before I move and develop more long-term plans. Only my driver’s license expires on my birthday this August – and on a Sunday no less. I was waiting to worry about it until after I graduated, but now it’s been almost two months and I just now got around to calling the DMV to check about renewing my license in the mail. It would seem logical to just switch my license to a Texas one – then there’s no need to buy a plane ticket and attempt to justify to the government how I still live with my parents (which I don’t, really).

But the thing is, I’m not from Texas and don’t want to be. It’s the same reason I haven’t gotten a new cell phone plan when my AT&T plan is much more expensive than some of the other plans which are not available in West Virginia. Having an out-of-state driver’s license and license plate on my car and cell phone number make it clear to others that I’m “not from around here.” And I like it that way. While I’ve met some good people in Texas, the culture overall isn’t one I identify with by any means or would like to be associated with. I certainly don’t want anyone to mistake me for a native – though assumptions like that still happen from time to time. But when they do, I have my proof of the truth – that I’m just a visitor.

And I know it makes no sense to be willing to live in Texas for another year while I still attempt to maintain my distance from it. But it’s there. My heritage lies elsewhere and I want to hold onto that part of me that’s from the North. And I don’t think I’ll lose it if I have to get a Texas driver’s license. But that legal shift would make it seem like this change is more permanent somehow. This was supposed to be temporary and I don’t want to end up stuck here forever because it’s easier not to leave. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want anything to tie me to Texas. My friends would, surely, but many of them will come and go as well.

Maybe it doesn’t have to make sense. Emotions are rarely rational. So my options stand: 1) Find a suitable letter of explanation to defend why I cannot come to the DMV office in person in August to renew my license and renew it through the mail; 2) wait until Christmas to renew since I have a six month grace period and hope that I don’t get a ticket; 3) put on my big girl panties, suck it up, and go switch my driver’s license to a Texas one.

In this summer of flux when I don’t know where I’m headed or how the future’s going to turn out, there’s a part of me that’s resisting settling down here. I am still waiting to hear about a better job and while I know it makes no sense to spend all my savings moving, there’s a part of me that never would have imagined I’d ever be here – much less staying after I graduate. I came to Texas kicking and screaming and I’m not ready to give up my last legal ties to the hill country of my birth. Maybe I just have to be secure enough in my identity to know that I’m not a Texan, even if I might look like one to others.

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