Wednesday, April 20, 2011

From the Archives: Becoming a Southerner

The first time I got my driver's license, I was 16, like most American teenagers. In Alaska your license is good for four years from your next birthday, so mine expired the day I turned 21. I waited until the day after my birthday and went for my new license (because of course I didn't want the "UNDER 21" stamped on my license that would be good until I was 26). Even though I was living in Idaho at the time, since I was still in college I didn't want to change my residency.

I lived in Idaho for a year after graduating from college and still didn't change my license. After all, why give up residency in Alaska (where I might be eligible for a PFD again one day) when I wasn't sure what I was doing or where I was going with my life?

Then I moved to Poland for three years, returned to Alaska at age 25, and of course, renewed my driver's license the following January. And then I moved to North Carolina, where once again, I didn't get a new driver's license.

My last Alaska driver's license.

A year later I got married. Shannon was a resident of Alabama, me (myself?) a resident of Alaska. Should I get a NC driver's license, since that's where we were living? I'd heard it was a big pain to switch to a NC license, and that still wouldn't make us residents of the same state, so I decided to wait. (Enter my using my passport as i.d. for two years, since it was the only piece of photo i.d. I had with my correct name on it.)

And then this past spring, right at a year ago, I took the plunge. I changed my residency for the first time in 30 years. I got a new driver's license and am now an Alabama resident, along with my husband.

Notice that 10-pound weight gain between the ages of 25-30? I'm totally blaming it on Lane!

The question is, does it make me a Southerner that I have a Deep South driver's license? Or can I still claim Northerner status since that's where I was born and raised and lived most of my life? (Notice how that question is raised: it's not "Do I still claim...," it's "Can I still claim....") I don't think of myself as a Southerner, even if technically I am one now.


  1. Michelle you are clearly "to me" still a northerner. The things you learned in your first 30 years will never completely fade away, and it is most certainly part of what makes you, you. As you well know all part of Gods great plan.

  2. What is wrong with being a Southerner? I think those of us from these parts are quite nice. Nothing wrong with being a Northerner but neither is anything wrong with being from the South.

  3. Phoebe, there's nothing wrong with being Southerner, but if you are from the South, you'd most likely feel the same way if suddenly presented with "becoming a Northerner." I just don't feel like I'm a Southerner, so I don't really want to BE one, if that makes sense.

    Dean: HI! Good to see/hear you!

  4. This was me! When I moved to South Carolina I was so reluctant to change my residency, but I finally bit the bullet. Then I moved to France, got married, etc. When I was home (AZ) last year I went to ask for new license and reclaim residency only to find out that I was still active in their system and that my old license was still valid! I just had to get a replacement with my new name. The downfall, I still get called for jury duty in both states.

  5. Well, I would say I am a Northerner if I were you because it's cultural, rather than a legal residency. It's weird because when I am in NC, I say that I am from FL but when I am out of NC, I say that I am from NC. NC is definitely home for me. Funny that Barbara mentioned jury duty - I just got summoned a week ago and I'm about to move out of the state in three days - and remain a resident of NC. Not sure how that is all going to work out.

  6. LOL! I noticed the 10 pound gain as well as the inch to your height. Don't feel bad though; we are the same height, and I have you by 23 pounds!

  7. Erin, thankfully I have lost a bit of that 10 was only a couple of months after Lane was born, after all!

    And even though TECHNICALLY I am only 5'8" (and 3/4 inch), EVERYONE always says, "No you're not" when they ask me how tall I am and I say 5'8". So I just gave myself 1/4 inch. It's what everyone thinks I am anyways.

  8. Oh, you're still a Northerner. I consider it a matter of choice for those of us who move around. I choose to be Southern, even though if I counted up years I've lived equal amounts of time in North and South.

  9. Having been born and raised in the South, I would say you are still a Northerner. In most cases, its where you grew up. Like right now I bet you wouldn't say your Turkish just like I would never say I'm Chinese. Being from Alaska is way cooler than beiing from Alabama anyway!

  10. No, I think you are Alaskan. You've hardly spent any time living in the south. Not near as long as Alaska!
    I still have a mixed up answer when asked "Where are you from?"
    Alaska is still the place I have lived the longest, but that was SO long ago. Of course, I lived in TX for 9 years before moving to Europe, so I do identify with TX quite a bit even though I wasn't raised there.
    Yes, welcome to the mixed up world of identifying yourself as either a northerner or southerner! =P


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