Ruibal column: Proving residency at the DMV — and to locals
September 16, 2017
Sitting at the DMV holding my ticket number, like I was waiting for half a pound of roast beef rather than to obtain a driver's license, I felt something I'm sure isn't too common there: gratitude.
This was my third trip to the DMV in a little over a month. It took me two tries to have all the proper documents to prove I did in fact live in Colorado now. I waited until the last business day before the Grand Avenue detour (because I'm a millennial who doesn't plan ahead). This third trip was because, despite the first two, my new license got lost in the mail.
"We'll reissue you a new one for free," the kind lady told me when I called. I felt relief. Until…
"You just need to come back into the DMV with your old ID, two proofs of residen–"
"Wait, I have to go to the DMV again?" I asked.
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Oh no. So here I sat. And waited. Screams from decorations at the Spirit Halloween store echoed into the little space in the mall the DMV occupies. My own internal screams echoed inside me. But I forced myself to try to see the positive in this place.
The first two times I was at the DMV, it was still summer and there were a lot of teenagers and their parents waiting to take the test. On my third visit, an immigrant was so excited to have all the correct forms to receive his learner's permit. Despite all my annoyance and glances at my watch, there was something nice about being able to prove I belonged in this state and had the independence to explore it as I wish. Some people can only dream of being so lucky.
I read a lot of negative comments online from natives who want to keep Colorado native. All these newcomers apparently clog up the trails, add to traffic and drive housing prices up. They wear Colorado merch and sport bumper stickers even though they weren't born here. A feature we have in our weekend GO section is "Live like a Local" where we invite locals to share their favorite taverns, trails, etc. We've gotten several troll responses of something along the lines of "stop prostituting our town." I promise that's the very least of our intentions.
It sometimes feels like natives are the older siblings that don't want the younger, snot-nosed kids to ruin their favorite things. I imagine natives thinking, "No! That's mine," when asked about the area. However, in fairness, I imagine them thinking of us new people as saying "Gimme! Gimme!"
But we're all adults here. And Colorado isn't a toy. It's a beautiful, diverse state where, according to the census, 57 percent of residents were born elsewhere. Locally and nationally, it doesn't matter where you're from. It matters where you are now and how you treat that space.
I wasn't born in Colorado. I was born in Virginia and lived in Ohio for 18 years before moving out here. I've been here for nearly four months and this place already feels like home. There has to be something special about the first place you live alone as a young adult. I went through adolescence in Ohio, but Colorado is where I really feel I finally grew up. I learned to drive in Ohio, but Colorado is where I've felt my most driven.
After three (please no more, DMV) visits to the little hole in the mall just to prove my residency here, I want to treat this state and all its people with respect. I hope that's mutual.
Sallee Ann Ruibal is engagement editor of the Post Independent. You can email, Facebook comment or tweet her @salleeannruibal your suggestions of how to be a good Coloradoan.
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