Dear Girl In My Driver’s License Photo,
Dear, dear girl. What a life you lead! The winds of change have blown you through four cities in the last year, and spat you out here, spinning, with your hand on your hat. In each new place you have shaken your head, dusted yourself off and walked forward into another new situation – scarcely even taking the time to absorb your surroundings.
And as a gentlemanly gesture, your surroundings, in turn, did not absorb you either. You and your respective cities of residence have lead lives as kindly neighbors – acquainted, sure, but otherwise hardly cognizant of one another’s presence. Arizona’s sprawling desert and beautiful, panoramic views made friendly eye contact in passing but did not call to you, did not whisper sweet nothings into your ear. Similarly, the noisy, pulsating streets of San Francisco were quaint and appealing in photographs, but in the end warmed someone else’s bed. No, the dapper charm of these cities was lost on you, dear one.
It seems needless, then, to say you have not felt “at home” at all this year – flighty and transient as your existence has been, that four-letter word has not even snaked its way into your vocabulary. What is home, but a place to hang your hat? A place where you never got around to stocking the pantry, where you’re not quite compelled to unpack allthe boxes… just in case. No, a mere stepping-stone to the next adventure, surely not a home.
Were you afraid? Of course you were. Before this tumultuous year you were secure in your place in the world. Your entire life – friends, family, every school you ever attended – were all a stone’s throw away. You had hunkered down in your hometown like a bird protecting her eggs: You spread your wings out wide and strong, but stayed firmly perched on your nest. Because to do anything else would mean certain danger – even an inch’s movement in any direction would be much too risky.
Little did you know, little bird, that you would move from that nest of comfort and familiarity – not just an inch but 400 miles, and then another 800, and then 600 more. As if your ties to it were not made of rope but of rubber, and you wanted to see just how far they could stretch.
And did they stretch? Do you still feel like that little bird, pulling and tugging against the bonds that held you there for so long? Or is the resistance all just imagined, and the cord was severed completely when you first left home a year ago?
And if no binding ties exist to that old nest, to what now, dear girl, do you consider yourself bound? Not the sunny plains of Arizona or the bustling streets of San Francisco, surely.
Are the evergreens and snowcapped mountains of your current surroundings enough to provide anchor? Your new home carries not a single unpacked box, and your cabinets are full of canned goods. Could this mean that you are, after all, itching for some measure of permanence? A place to call your own?
I think the answer might lie in the one, solitary declarative act of relocation you have made. The only time, in three moves over 13 months, that you have taken the time to stand in line and notify this new location of your intent. Like crying from a rooftop that you are here. You do exist, and you wantthis city to open itself up to you, and vice versa.
Dear girl, waiting patiently for your turn in metal folding chairs, standing behind the yellow line and looking up at the camera, wide-eyed and grinning…