I went to the DMV to renew my license on my 32nd birthday because that was the date it expired, and I like to wait till the last minute. The air from sky down was blue and balmy, which was a pleasant change from sticky. I took a tree-lined route that canopied vividly without all that haze. Simon and Garfunkel's Cecilia came on and I belted out the words to the thunky beat as I revved my car close to the red line just because I could. There was too much congestion on the semi-country road to keep up any speed for long. With the kids back home with The Partner, I enjoyed the solitude, the green and gold, and the snarl of my engine on the ride to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The front lot was full as I pulled in. I drove around to a spot behind the building. I got out of the car, still feeling free, which was a remarkable feeling considering my destination. I hiked my purse over my shoulder and walked along 70s-era bureaucratic bricks that climbed high with no windows to let in, or out, such things as light or sanity. As I was about to turn the corner, a whistle emerged from the car passing by. "Niiice!" the driver called out.
If my car had been closer or if I had looked as straggly as I usually do, I would not have assumed his comment was directed toward me. As it was, my guy-magnet vehicle was nowhere nearby, and I had actually taken some effort to put myself together that morning. He wasn't appreciating my ride; he wasn't mocking me. There I was, 32 years old, being cat-called. This was a birthday gift. I resisted the urge to do a jig and settled, instead, for pushing my purse back up on straightened shoulders. I purposely avoided looking at him, or even at his car. I didn't want the probable reality of what such a cat-caller would look like (or drive) to chase away my warm fuzzies.
I hummed a tune--probably Cecilia--as I pulled open the metal-lined glass door that marked the entrance to the DMV in grime. On the other side of the vestibule, a man held open the next door, balancing a large Dunkin Donuts iced coffee and a sheaf of forms against the handle. I smiled and said thanks.
Then I got in line and waited for the rest of my life.