I've traded my Iowa license for one from Vermont. Despite living in Boston, New York and Missouri, I'd never registered to drive or vote anywhere but Iowa until now.
Joan Didion once spoke of retaining her California license even after living most of her life in New York City. The license became an important tie to the place where she was born and where her parents and grandparents lived. I feel similarly.
So what made me drive to the Department of Motor Vehicles before work one morning last week? It was a the desire to be fully involved in the community where I live (and in small part the fact that if an Iowa license holder leaves the state they have 30 days to register in their new state of residence, as I learned while renewing my license this May). But this change goes deeper than following the law and does not indicate a weakening connection with the state where I've spent the majority of my life and my parents, sister and grandmother still live.
Instead, it represents my desire to pay attention to community issues and have a vote in decisions. It also demonstrates my readiness to put down roots in a single place after shuffling around to different states and countries for a few months here and a few years there.
While attending Bread Loaf in Vermont last summer a teacher asked me and my classmates to describe where home is. I said that I wasn't quite sure where mine was, but it would be a place with a big bookshelf that I could fill. Up to now, I've been reluctant to acquire too many books for fear of eventually having to lug them to my next temporary home.
Since arriving in Vermont, I've been searching the Internet for a bookshelf to order when my paychecks start coming and dreaming of the books I'll collect.