On Updating My Driver’s License

I don’t want to update my driver’s license.

I’ve always been under the impression that one of the major indicators you’ve successfully moved to a new location and have planted roots is getting a new license. I’m sure there are laws about it, too, but to be quite frank, I haven’t really looked into the requirements for changing your license since I moved to the greater DC area for a handful of reasons:

  • I don’t have a car here, and my current license doesn’t expire until 2018, so it hasn’t felt like a pressing need.
  • I’m very likely going to be moving again to get a little closer to DC itself, so it seems pointless to get a Virginia license when I could very well be living in DC or Maryland before the next 12 months are up.
  • Who has time? The fact that I live in an area dubbed the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia, for those outside the alphabet soup that is DC) is as close to any DMV experience I want to deal with anytime soon; I wait long enough to get from place to place on the Metro during weekend track work. Spend time in an actual DMV? I don’t think so.

    At the DMV without an appointment.

  • The double takes I get when people check my ID at various places are hilarious.

That last point is part of the main reason why I don’t want to update my license: If I update my license, I’m no longer a Montanan. Legally, anyway.

Let’s be real, I’m a Montanan born and bred, and once a Montanan, always a Montanan. In all my years of interacting with U.S. citizens from various states, the only ones I’ve met who can give Montanans a run for their money when it comes to pride in their origins are Texans and Portlandians (though Coloradans are not far behind).

Photo by Morgan C. Feddes

And with a view like this, can you blame us? It’s hard to go wrong with mountains.

Most of me recognizes that changing my license doesn’t change me as a person. I suppose it’s a bit like bringing a wild animal to a zoo; you can say a tiger in a cage is a resident of that zoo, but it doesn’t change the fact that the tiger is really something that belongs in the wild. (I suppose the metaphor could also be extended to talk about how tigers adapt to zoos and can no longer survive in the wild and what does that mean for identity and origin, but, frankly, I don’t want to dwell on that at the moment. Maybe sometime down the road when the quarter-life crisis hits or something.)

I also recognize that for me to have the social opportunities and job options that I want, it’s not very practical for me to stay in Montana — it is, after all, a very small state, population-wise, especially give its land mass. Outside a few select career fields, there’s not a ton of room for advancement — or, as is my case, options for variety. And even though I’m not always a fan of the weather here, I do love living in the DC area and the opportunities it creates, and I’m not planning on leaving any time soon.

But still, there is something in me that absolutely rebels at the idea of changing my license. Part of it is the continuity; since 2010, I’ve lived in five different cities for various lengths of time, and I’ve always had my Montana license. It’s provided a constant source of conversation — usually starting with variations of, “I visited there once — it’s beautiful,” or “Manhattan, huh?” or my personal favorite: “I’ve never actually met anyone from Montana before.” To which I always respond, “Well, there’s really not that many of us.”

Which is true — we were just over the 1 million mark in 2012 (which I did not know, actually — I always went off the 2010 numbers, which had us at a little over 989,000, so that shows you how much it’s grown in a couple years), and I would imagine the number of people actually born in Montana would be smaller (though I have no way to verify that and could very easily be wrong, as I often am about these things).

So there’s always been something of a point of pride for me to show my license and say, “Yes, I am from Montana,” and be able to remark on how gorgeous my home state is, and that’s something I’ll lose when it finally comes time for me to no longer have my childhood address listed on my license.

And yes, I recognize that a significant factor in me not wanting to give up my license is to acknowledge that yes, I am an adult, and yes, I have moved away from my home and family; even though 98 percent of the time I’m very pleased with that fact, there are still those little moments where I think I’m still in college and that I’ll be returning to that old address eventually. (Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, that’s not happening again anytime soon. Well, other than the vacation I have planned for later this week. But you know what I mean.)

I suppose I’ll have to suck it up and do it sooner rather than later, especially as I would like to be able to do such things as vote and say, “Yes, that is my current address on there” when I’m showing it for various things.

But that means posing for a new picture. And as we all know, that is the worst part of getting a new license.


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