Warm sun shining down on me, soft breeze in my hair, staring out at the swaying palm trees. No, I'm not at the beach. I'm at at the DMV. Waiting with about a dozen other out-of-staters for our cars to be inspected. The DMV is a place of frustration, impatience, and anxiety. Yet, here I am. Just letting it all be. This is a part of the process. I made the choice to move here. So many people complain about the taxes in California. And the ludicrous fees required to register your car here. Gulp.
But I chose this.
In life, we have to make sacrifices. If we want something different, we have to be willing to change. Nothing comes freely. But as I wait in a long line before waiting in another long line and then paying hundreds of dollars, I remember why it's worth it to me. Why it's worth it to follow my heart and live in the place that makes me come alive.
After finally getting my car inspected and exchanging conversation with the clerk about the differences between California and Virginia, I made my way inside where I missed my number being called by one. I was B125 and as I walked back through the door, "Now serving B126 at Window 23." You're kidding me. I felt my blood start to slightly boil but I knew to just breathe. It would be okay. I stood in line... again... to get yet another number and luckily only waited fifteen minutes before proceeding to pay a couple thousand dollars. Gulp.
Then I was told I'd have to exchange my Virginia plates in order to get my California plates. But I didn't bring my friggin' toolbox, I thought to myself. Not to worry. I asked the man for a screwdriver and marched out to my car, got down on my hands and knees on the scorching pavement and realized this screwdriver was not going to do it. I waited in line again, and exchanged the screwdriver for a wrench, marched back out to my car and onto the pavement. The bolts would not budge. Cue the sweat dripping down my back. Certainly this was not my typical trip to the DMV.
I was frustrated but determined. You got this, I kept telling myself. A group of people walked behind me and the man said, "Turn it the other way." Apparently I was screwing the bolt tighter. Nice work, Chels. "Ah, thanks!" I responded. Back and forth to the front and back of my car. Finally, the bolts started to move and in the back of my head I kept thinking how I wasn't even halfway through the DMV process and I had already been there for two hours. I got all the bolts out except for one. I tried and tried and luckily, a sweet passerby said, "Need some help?" Bam.
I marched back inside with black hands and feet [classy, I know] and waited in line yet again. "I love your blouse!" the clerk told me as she called me up. It put a smile on my face. I can honestly say I've never met so many friendly DMV clerks in the countless DMV offices I've been to. She gave me my new, shiny, California plates and I tried to contain my excitement. I walked over to the final line where I would take my picture and do my best at passing the written test [that several friends had told me they failed.] I turned in my test and waited.
I felt like I was waiting for my SAT results.
Finally my name was called and I received the news, "You passed! Congratulations!" And, to top it all off, my driver's license photo is probably the best one I've ever had. Bam.
Four hours and a couple thousand dollars later, and I finally have my California plates and driver's license. I'm official. My dream is really a reality now. I know it may seem so small and probably a little lame to some of you but getting those plates, being an official resident of The Golden State, was a dream of mine for so many years. It reminds me that I can do anything I set my mind to. I know there will be sacrifices and hardships but eventually, as long as you keep trying, the bolts will finally loosen and it will be so worth it. And in the meantime, you'll have sunshine to keep you company and a few friendly strangers who give you hope until you get where you wanted to go :)