My passport expired this year and instead of renewing the book, I opted to pay considerably less money for a card so I could go on my sister-in-law’s bachelorette cruise. More money for booze and rum cake. Mmmm….rum cake. Worry about the book later.
Meanwhile, it recently came to my attention that I needed to change the address on my driver’s license. Just what I needed, on top of all the other stuff I had to get done – a trip to the DMV. They make you bring so many proofs of who you are that it’s hard for the average American to replace an ID, let alone a foreigner.
And here begins a skit I like to call “hashtag: immigrant problems.”
Do you have your birth certificate?
No. I’ve never had one.
[Suspicious look, like that’s unheard of.]
What do you have to prove your identity?
A passport card.
Oh, excellent. That’s just as good. [Can’t help but read: I’m relieved that you’re not an undocumented alien.]
After an amazingly brief wait in the lobby, there followed some inputting of data, clack clack clacking away on the keyboard, and long pauses.
Ma’am, when you first got your license, what did you use as proof of identity? You didn’t use a passport, right?
Uh… no… but…
I honestly couldn’t remember. Do you know how long it’s been since I got my license? I’m twice that age now. Besides, I’m pretty sure Mom took care of all that. She was always militant about our documents.
Lady Behind the Counter prodded me again for answers (because ain’t nobody got time for that). Think, think, think. It’s not like me to be unprepared for such things. What has changed significantly since I was 16 years old? Who was I before now, and where is the proof?
Then it hit me. Idiot. Ten years ago, the same year I got my first passport, I became a citizen of the United States (more on that later). Before then, who was I? Where was the proof?
30 years in this country. 10 years as a citizen. And I still get nervous when someone asks about documentation.
I must have used my green card to get my first license, and now the DMV system was having a meltdown because I now have a passport. My green card – that little piece of laminated paper, assuring everyone I was allowed to be here so they should give me this other piece of plastic with my photo on it, which declares that I can legally operate a motor vehicle (provided I wear corrective lenses).
Papers, papers…where are your papers? Without them, who am I? And where is the proof?