I had a birthday. It seemed like an appropriate time to do something I'd been dreading.
I have a lovely, small, white car. I bought it as I finished my Master's degree before I moved to Washington D.C. When I drove it off the lot it had eight miles on it. At the time all of my belongings fit inside of it. After four months in the capitol I moved back West. I paid off the car in less than a year. Really though, this post has nothing to do with the car. Really, this is about growing, maturing, and a mild identity crisis. I bought the car in Idaho--my home state. I have proudly driven with a license plate colored like a sunset proclaiming "Famous Potatoes" in every car I've ever owned or had on loan (thanks Mom and Dad).
However, I now have a "real" job and can no longer avoid changing the license plates to my current state with excuses like, "I'm just a student" or "I'll be moving in a few months." A few weeks ago I drove to Livingston where I paid my money to the state of Montana for a new plate and driver's license. Yesterday my Idaho license expired. I took it out of my wallet, placed the Montana license in its place, and I stepped toward my little car armed with a screw driver. I tried not to think of all that it means to give up my Idaho plates. But as I unscrewed my bug-encrusted plates the memory of stepping over rows of potatoes while helping my brother move irrigation pipe came to mind. I could smell the dirt, the dew, and the green all around. All to quickly my car, and me with it, had been stripped of our previous identity.
We both felt strange as well looked at one another. I almost heard it whisper, "Do you know me?" And I whispered back, "Who am I?" In all fairness, I am twenty-nine and plenty old enough to claim a new state. And really, losing Idaho to Montana is like being late for dinner because your massage went long. But still, I feel that I let go of a piece of myself. How will I find my car in a parking lot? Okay, parking lots in Gardiner aren't very crowded. How will I ever learn to remember all these strange, new numbers? Of course, now the sheriff will stop leaving notes on it when I don't drive it for weeks. And locals will finally wave at me. Nevertheless, as I grapple with my new residency and voting precinct I ask the "big sky country" that I am now a part of, "What will be next?"