On my birthday last February, my driver’s license expired. There was no way I could renew it, because I could not pass the vision test. Even though I had not driven in four months, I was very sad to let my license expire. It was one thing to make a decision not to drive once I thought it was not safe, but it was quite another thing to no longer have a license. Plus, on a couple of occasions, not having a valid driver’s license for identification caused a bit of a problem.
Since my birthday, I have had two cataract surgeries. An artificial lens was inserted into each eye. As my eyes healed, my distance vision got better and better. I began to suspect that my vision might be good enough to pass the DMV vision test. I knew I would still never drive, but I started to think that it might be interesting to see if I could get my license back.
In New York state, a person can renew a license for six months beyond the expiration date. Longer than that, and a new road test must be taken. My license expired on February 23, so I knew I had until August 23 to try to pass the vision test. After work tonight, armed with my strongest reading glasses, John and I headed to the DMV office to try to renew my license.
When we arrived at the DMV, the line was out the door. I had plenty of time to stand and consider whether my vision was going to be good enough to pass the test. Person after person stepped up to the line and read the letters. John even told me the letters on lines #1 and #2 (as if I could memorize them). Finally, it was my turn. Not knowing that this was a momentous occasion for me, the lady behind the counter seemed bored as she went through the steps of processing my license renewal. Finally, I heard the fateful words, “Read the letters on line 6.” I looked at the chart, squinted a little, and read the letters as best I could. Apparently, I got them right, because her next words were, “Sign your name on this line.”
No time to celebrate. Just time to get into a queue to pay for my license renewal. Soon, I was called to the window I turned over my paperwork, paid the fee, and received my paper temporary license. I am now the proud holder of a New York state driver’s license.
Having a driver’s license will not change my life. I still believe it would be unsafe for me to drive, and so I won’t get behind the wheel. Still, having a license is nice. Even though I won’t use it, I like having it. It makes me feel normal. My old normal used to mean being able to drive. My new normal means keeping my valid driver’s license in my purse, right along with my ID cane. I don’t use either of them, but each of them is a sign of independence – the license represents the independence of my past and the cane represents the independence of my future. For the present, I like having them both within easy reach.