I gave up my last vestige of California-ness this week: I broke down and overcame whatever denial I was living in for the past year and finally got a Michigan driver’s license. (I have had a valid California license this entire year, so don’t assume that I was driving illegally or anything like that. Anyway, the number of times in the past year that I’ve actually been behind the wheel have been so numerically insignificant that it’s almost an insult to the Motor State for me to gain admission to the driver’s license club here.)
I wouldn’t consider the wait at the Secretary of State’s office on Maple a pleasant experience, but then again, it was way closer to pleasant than any wait I had at any of the California DMV offices I sat in over the years. The woman who took my number was very friendly, asking me what I was here in Michigan for when the weather was so much nicer in California. She then told me that she was worried about her 16-year-old son getting his first license because a friend of his had already been in three accidents. Yet another reason that my newly minted driver’s license isn’t likely to get much more than cursory or emergency use in this state.
Anyway, when they finish with you at the Secretary of State, they punch a hole in your out-of-state license and hand it back to you, which is an oddly deflating event. It’s confirmation that your identity as a person from that Other State is no longer valid or relevant.
I guess I already knew that, and it’s not as if I’ve been trumpeting my California identity while I’ve been here, but it’s still a strangely symbolic ritual.