I’m spending the month of May back in Western Pennsylvania with my family. I grew up in Amish country, in a small town of 2,500, complete with one grocery store, three stoplights, and a lot of churches. As you can imagine, it’s quite the contrast from San Francisco. However, I’m thankful to be here. The plusses outweigh any minuses: family, good weather (it’s been in the ’80s), good home cooking, and quiet. My niece and nephews play a variety of sports, so I’ve been able to catch quite a few games. I’m also trying to run or walk daily to shed some extra pounds from all of the big meals I had last month. Take note: when you leave, everyone wants to take you out to dinner. Exercise accordingly for balance.
Upon arriving home, I noticed that my California driver’s license will expire in August. That’s a little troubling. In the event that I don’t find a job in Italy in 90 days, I’ll need to leave the country, and if I return to the States then I won’t be able to drive. Plus, I’m no longer a California resident, a fact that I didn’t want to admit to myself. I decided I’d be better off facing reality and headed to the Punxsutawney DMV for a Pennsylvania license.
Although I haven’t been a resident for almost 14 years, I was still in their system, and the process was pretty painless: 1) submit application/supporting documents, 2) pass eye exam, 3) pay fee, 4) take photo. The employee took note of my reluctance to let go of my California license, my last remaining proof of San Francisco residency, and assured me I could have it back once he invalidated it. He hole-punched it two places, handed it back to me, and said with a smile,
“Welcome back to Pennsylvania.”
Of all the places to get a homecoming, I never imagined it would be at such a universally detested place as the Department of Motor Vehicles! I couldn’t help but smile back as I thanked him and accepted my old license, now a treasured souvenir.
I walked out thirty minutes later with a license stamped with the word “temporary” in red across the front (my actual license arrived in the mail a week later). I examined this word for awhile, and reflected on how appropriate it is for where I am in my life: in a layover, on my way to the next destination. Directly below the word is my new permanent address, the home where I grew up and spent two-thirds of my life. The home I left almost 14 years ago. And the home and family that always welcome me back, that support me through every life change and every adventure.
Sure feels good to be Pennsylvanian again.