Friday, October 27, 2006

right back where we started from

Here is a fine example of my commitment issues. This morning, after over four years of living here, I finally became an official Californian. Okay, perhaps this is not just an example of commitment issues- certainly, my laziness, procrastination, and blatant disregard for the law issues are also wrapped in there. But it really does have something to do with commitment too, I promise you.

You see, until this morning, I have only carried a license from one state since the age I learned to drive. I have lived in many other states. In fact, I have not lived in the state where I learned to drive since I graduated from high school. But I always maintained my driver's license from EBF. I maintained a semblance of residence in those states (thanks mom & dad!) because I was always convinced that my moves were temporary.

I always figured, just another year. At any moment, I could disappear, and no one would notice really. So I went for years carrying around a license from the other side of the country. Every so often, my friends would spy me slipping the license to a bouncer, bartender, or store owner, and would ask why I was holding onto it. Didn't I know it was illegal? How had I managed it all these years?

There is a lot of irony in my resistance to discard my license, honestly. I never much cared for EBF. When I am there, I do not feel a profound sense of home, or attachment to the place. I can appreciate the beauty of its roads and its colors and its landscapes, but I never feel I have come back when I am there. I never feel those open arms of welcoming- which is not unusual, actually, because where I grew up was not such a touchy-feely sort of place. Sure, it is somewhat fun to proclaim my home state to people, since it usually causes a mixture of surprise, fascination and a look of wtff?!?. Still, it's not out of some sentimental attachment to my home state that I have held that license for the last 15+ years.

There is even more irony in establishing myself as a California resident today, when all signs point to me living here for longer than another six to nine months. It was strange, last night, studying for the driver's license exam (shut up, the Cali exam is hard, and a lot of my friends have failed on the first try), when I have been feeling increasingly like letting go of the west coast and returning to a more solid place. Four years, and only when the winds of change are starting to swirl again do I get my license.

I occasionally have to ask myself if I really want not to belong anywhere. It certainly seems like I take a lot of steps to keep myself from settling in, integrating, incorporating.

And crossing the Golden Gate Bridge today, the city was bursting. The sun sparkled against the water, silenced even the suggestion of fog, and seemed to clean the city off into a shiny gem. It was all so beautiful, and it used to make me catch my breath. Nowadays I breathe it in, I pay the city its due respect, and think to myself, I will always have this.

When I got home, all of that peace from feeling sure of where I was headed was jostled. I should know better by now. Whenever I make peace with life, it picks a fight. Some time back, I had made amends with not switching jobs. I was offered a job, I thought about taking it, I decided to take it, and then, because of some office politics, the job disappeared. And even though I was disappointed, I had come to terms with it. I called a truce. This afternoon, of course, all this time later, I got an email informing me that the job has materialized again. Just when I thought I was finally going to have a weekend without introspection.

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