I’ll be 35 in July, and this year, my driver’s license is up for renewal. I qualified for online renewal last time around, so this time, I have to make an actual appearance at the Department of Public Safety. I don’t know about you, but the minute the notice arrives, months in advance, I’m filled with dread. I hate going to the DPS office, and I always have.
I was not an eager driver as a teenager, and though my mom enrolled me in a summer driver’s education program the very minute I turned 15, I was scared to death to get behind the wheel of a car. I had my learner’s permit but never took the driving portion, so I continued to renew my permit all through high school and even into college, barely practicing my driving skills at all. In fact, both of my sisters, who are four and five years younger than me, got their driver’s licenses before I did, and I didn’t even care. That’s how big a wimp I really was.
Both of my parents spent time patiently practicing with me, but I never really wanted to learn. It took Ryan, and the promise of an engagement ring in another city, to really motivate me to get my license. Well, that and the fact that I had to actually drive to my student teaching assignment if I wanted to find a job after college. Eventually, I did learn to drive for real and finally earned my actual license, right around the time I turned 21. The next year, I bought my first car and drove it to Austin a month later, where I’ve lived ever since. That car, a Saturn, was my very own, and my first real taste of responsibility and freedom. We traded it in for a larger car when I was pregnant with Rhys, and I still miss it all the time.
Needless to say, my previous visits to the DPS were all extremely unnerving, and I had never been by myself. My most recent license picture was taken mere weeks after my wedding (when I needed to change my name and address), and I still looked like an innocent young bride. I even wore my hair pinned back in the style I chose for the ceremony. I’ve carried that picture for 11 years now, and it was definitely time for a change.
So this week, I braved the new DPS “Mega Center” near my house, and ventured inside to renew my license, all by myself. And you know what? It was painless.
I took advantage of the new “Get in Line Online” feature, so by the time I arrived, I had to wait exactly three minutes before my number was called. The staff was actually friendly and courteous, and the woman who assisted me was beyond sweet, a trait I’ve never encountered at the driver’s license office before. She even called me Sweetie and complimented my blouse and purse, so I joked that I’m going to come back every year.
My new photo isn’t as beautiful as my first, but I’m quite a bit older, and wiser, too. I’m no longer that bright young thing literally staring my future in the face. I’m a bit heavier, a bit rounder, a bit greyer, and a little softer around the edges. It’s a realistic picture, and it will last me at least another 11 years.
Because the best part of this whole experience is that, next time, I get to renew online.