January 8, 2009
Yesterday was one of those cold, rainy days when the big decision is whether to do anything or just stay home and think about how uncomfortable it would be to go outside at all. As usual, I went against the normal inclinations and took a bus to a place I'd never been.
Knowing my Alabama driver's license would expire on the 12th, I took it on myself to trek to the department of motor vehicles, which in New Jersey is known as the NJMVC. The nearest office to Hoboken is in North Bergen which is not very near. It would be an educational excursion, and if I couldn't find the place, at least I would have been to a new place.
Six months ago my friend Alex got his license transferred and he assured me that if I still had a valid license from another state, the process was simple and he would even drive me to the office. In the meantime, he has left Hoboken and now lives in Princeton. Cristina has dropped out of sight since before Christmas. She hasn't answered my emails. I assume she's sunning herself on a tropical beach somewhere and would not have been in New Jersey in time to get me to the NJMVC before my Alabama license expired.
It is urgent that I have a driver's license as I intend to fly to Alabama on the 19th for a week and will need to rent a car.
All these things converged, making yesterday the day--rain or not--to find the way to North Bergen and take care of the matter.
I went to this handy place on the Internet that offers maps and directions to places you need to find. It indicated that there is a bus from Hoboken to North Bergen that drives right to the NJMVC office--well, not to the door, but damn close. So the challenge was simple, meet the bus, which should have stopped at Washington and 9th at about 2:10 P.M.
It was drizzling lightly at 2:10, but I had a hood on my coat plus an umbrella, so that shouldn't be a problem. For some reason, the only thing that held me back was not the rain, but the fact that I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before and didn't want to look terrible for my picture. Finally I realized that I almost always look terrible in ID pictures and no amount of makeup, restful sleep, or lighting tricks will help. Just get on the bus and get the license. The picture couldn't look any worse than the one on my current license.
The bus ride was depressing. Mile after mile of junky streets, low-rent businesses, and intriguing restaurants advertising a variety of ethnic food I've never tasted but somehow wanted to try. It was a side of New Jersey you don't see much if you live in Hoboken. I passed the little clinic in West New York where my favorite doctor worked when her offices in Hoboken were closed due to somebody else's nervous breakdown. I was headed for 90th Street; this was about at 25th.
As we neared the end of the line, I was the last person on the bus. I approached the driver and told him I would be getting off at 90th Street. When he stopped there, I asked about the location of the NJMVC, and he said, "One block back."
Sure enough, there it was, tucked in aside a strip mall. Friendly receptionist gave me the forms and told me where to sit. I didn't have much of a wait, had all my necessary ID, actually had a pretty good picture taken, and was out of there in 20 minutes. Stopped in the Dunkin' Donuts at the strip mall to get exact change for the bus, and was home in another 45 minutes.
It won't rain today, but it will be colder. My big outing for the week has been accomplished. I wonder what will happen next.