i went to the dmv the other day on 34th and 6th, up the street from the manhattan mall. someone told me that it would be easier to get things done there instead of at the one uptown on 125th street. it sounded like a great idea—i didn’t even know that there was a dmv there. i went there in the early afternoon. what a zoo. all of humanity was there in its unwashed glory, in lines that looped back on themselves endlessly and somehow never moved. they snaked their way throughout the room, creating a kind of orderly confusion that was absurd. of course, i didn’t stay. but i did figure out what i had to do to get a learner’s permit and what forms of ID i had to bring with me upon my return. (my utility bill? you betcha!)
i didn’t think that i’d have to exert this much effort to do something this simple but i don’t care what it takes. i’ve decided to give myself a driver’s license for my birthday. that means i’ve got until june 30th to pull it off. my friend says he’ll gladly give me driving lessons in a parking lot deep in the heart of new jersey—it’s where he grew up, so he knows all about it—but i have to get my learner’s permit so we’ll be practicing legally. i have to skip town for a month in the middle of may so i don’t necessarily have that much time. and there’s a class that i’m required to take, too. yeesh. and of course there are fees. more money i don’t have.
but somehow i know that it’ll be worth it, if only to wipe that smug, smarmy look off of my entire family’s face and end once and for all the endless comedy routine that erupts whenever my name and the word car is mentioned in the same sentence.
that’s my real birthday present. that’s what i really want: to silence the peanut gallery.
oh and by the way—you maybe wondering why didn’t i learn how to drive before now, because it’s such a rite of passage for teenagehood and i’m waaaay past all that and everybody’s got one and i don’t. actually, i’ve got three good reasons. just for the record, here they are:
- from what i observed as a kid, being able to drive a car meant that i was handy for running errands. it didn’t mean that i had any real degree of freedom. i couldn’t do what i wanted to do, just because i had a driver’s license. the only thing that would give me that freedom was leaving home. clearly a jet airliner was in order, not a car. everybody wasn’t thinking like me. i know plenty of people who haven’t left their hometown yet.
- i have spent most of my adult life in nyc—a place that has an excellent transportation system. owning a car is expensive, anyway. nevermind paying it off or the gas or parking issues. usually, you have to pay for a place to keep it when it’s not in use. i usually walk to where i’m going. when the weather’s warm, i ride a bike. most of my friends who live elsewhere drive everywhere—and they look it.
- when i did live in texas as a college student, i rode a motorcycle—and i didn’t need to have a driver’s license to ride one. i needed a motorcycle license.