Thursday, February 08, 2007

License to drive

I recently got my Texas driver's license in the mail.

I had put this task off for quite some time, for a variety of reasons- not wanting to deal with bureaucracy, trying to schedule time to go to governmental offices with nonconducive business hours, not wanting to have "TEXAN" branded on my ass.

I knew that I would have to surrender my Louisiana license to get a Texas license, something I learned when Cat got hers. I hadn't wanted to give up my Louisiana license, with my New Orleans address where we had lived for five years and change. It made me feel good to have the ability to display it to people who have forgotten about Katrina or the city, sort of an in-your-face reminder of what we all have gone through- of what some of us are still going through. Losing the bit of State-issued plastic that identified me as a New Orleanian made me apprehensive. Would I ever get it back? Was I selling out? Was I turning my back on my home, my family and my friends? Did I really want to be a Texas resident? Have I taken one more step further away from New Orleans and normalcy?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again- all this would be different if we came to Austin (or anywhere else) by choice.

The days leading up to my birthday found me a little apprehensive; not just because of the relentless beat of the passing clock, but because I knew that not getting the paperwork done before my birthday meant I'd need to jump through additional hoops to get a license. Namely, pass a driving and a written test as though I was a first-time driver.

The DMV (or the "DPS" as they call it in Texas) near me has late night hours on Tuesday. Of course, this is the guv'mint, so "late night hours" means open until 7pm. Thanks to the death of Gerald Ford and the resulting day of remembrance, the first Tuesday in January found me at the door of a closed and locked DMV, no license to be had. Happily, the second week in January had no dead state officials, so the office was open to receive my twenty-four dollars.

Texas is really backwards- I had to wait two or three weeks to get my license. In Louisiana, you can walk out with your the same day you get it.

At any rate, I no longer have a suspicious (and temporary) bit of paper as my sole legal identification. I was semi-obsessively checking the mail every day; not having real photographic ID can do that to you, thanks to contemporary "security measures." Oddly, once I had the cheap-feeling bit of plastic, losing my Louisiana license was no longer an issue. When I get back home, I can run to the DMV, slap down the Texas license and say, "Give me my real one back."

I'm still a New Orleanian, and I will be a New Orleanian wherever I am.


MyUtopia said...

Great post! For some reason I remember getting my license from them the same day. I know for sure in Illinois they print it off for you the same day. When people ask me where I am from my line is, "Detroit, but I live in Austin now." I don't care how long I live here I wont ever call myself a Texan.

Kris said...

You know, the state of Texas only has one laminator to make the license. I'm suprised you got it that quick!