Earlier this week I became a Washington resident. In anticipation of my coming 21st birthday and the expiration of my Minnesotan driving license, I went to the local Department of Licensing to ensure my continued legality. After cresting the one major hill between my house and the department, I realized that I had forgotten my passport. Still, I biked on in the hopes that my soon-to-be expired license was proof of identity enough. It was not. A few days later I returned with all of the appropriate documents and even a few extras, waited for over an hour, spoke with the clerk, had my photo taken and received a temporary paper license. Upon closer examination, I realized this license was also an under-21 license. Thus, I get to repeat the whole procedure in two weeks. Freak.
Anyway, like I wrote, I am now an official Washington resident. It feels strange to write that. I lived in Minnesota for roughly 15 years and have physically been in Spokane for only about two years, but my state's next big election will be between Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi instead of Norm Coleman and Al Franken. I have only spent two nights in Seattle, do not fully appreciate "You might be from Washington if ..." jokes and have little interest in Starbucks. Even if my accent is not so bad as that of Fargo's Marge Gunderson, it is not unusual, either, for people to make fun of how I pronounce long "o's" or "bag." Still, I have held two different jobs in the state, and that is enough for proof of address and residency.
For those not paying attention, I do not feel much like a Washingtonian. In its own peculiar way, though, it is a relief to have this new residency. It makes concrete a break I have known was coming since I accepted entrance to Gonzaga. I never really expected to return to Minnesota, much less my hometown, for any significant length of time when I made that decision. There was no spite in that. I am fond of Minnesota, and even Baudette despite being hours from anything. However, I wanted to leave and find something new, something different. There is, after all, a lot to the world beyond Minnesota. Then again, the decision to leave was not so hard to make. I am an immigrant from upstate New York myself and simply have no roots in the state. The only other relatives to live there followed my family.
At the same time it is strange to declare myself a citizen of Washington. At the very least, I have another eight months here before graduation, but a year or two of volunteering overseas is definitely on mind after that. And after that? I do not know. I have a general preference for those states with four seasons and distinct winters, but more than likely, I will follow the job opportunities. Over the course of my travels this past year I do not even find it so hard to envision a future where I do not live in the United States. The future is wide open, and it seems presumptuous to even change my residency when the current situation is so temporary.
What does this all mean? Not much. While Minnesota may not be my home now or anytime in the near future, I know Minnesota. My driver's license may say something different, but there will always be the rider "... but I come originally from Minnesota." If we are to dip into cliché, a Washingtonian by name but Minnesotan by heart.
What I am more curious about is how long I will consider myself a Minnesotan, an American. How many years will I have to live in another state, another country before that becomes my home and part of my identity? Or can any number of late years ever overcome those formative ones of youth and adolesence? Those are questions which only experience will answer, utterly unanswerable in this blog now. I have reached a limit.
2 years ago