Here’s the proof. We have been married for 49 years as of today. Trouble is, the DMV won’t give me a Real ID because they don’t believe I’m really married.
Two weeks ago I arrived at our nearest DMV promptly when the office was supposed to open at 9am. I was eighth in line, standing in pouring rain carefully protecting all my important documents under my raincoat, for ten minutes before the door opened. Two hours later when finally called to window #9, I handed over my original social security card, birth certificate, marriage certificate, soon to expire driver’s license, two proofs that I still reside in the same house I moved into 49 years ago, and an expired passport. I waited with great patience while the clerk checked front and back of each document. She handed back the passport. “This is expired. We can’t use it.” She handed back everything but the marriage certificate. “These look good.” And then…
She flipped the yellowed marriage certificate a couple of times and held it up to the light as I watched a crinkled corner drop to her desk. I cringed when she did the unthinkable – she taped the corner back on the document with non-archivable tape. “This won’t work. It has no official stamp.”
“But, that’s the certificate I used when I got my passport,” I said.
She rolled her eyes. “Maybe they would have taken this but we can’t accept it. You’ll need to get a certified copy of your marriage license. Do you want a driver’s license without a real ID,” she asked. My next attempt to persuade her that the expired passport along with the marriage certificate that the US government had accepted as proof that I did indeed get married 49 years ago was futile. I walked out with a temporary driver’s license and an assurance that I could upgrade to a real ID once I obtained an official marriage license.
After a full day of searching twelve boxes of archived, photos, diplomas, grant deeds, 49 years of tax returns, insurance policies, and receipts for 49 years worth of purchases, I gave up. I contacted the county where we were married. No record. I contacted the county where we have lived for 49 years. No record. Maybe the preacher (Dad) never sent in the license. Since California does not observe common law marriages, what will I tell my illegitimate children?
Resolutions, intentions, goals… whatever you might want to call it. For me, I decided to pick one word for 2019. And the word I picked was clarity. I had it engraved on a ring and placed it on my finger before the new year began. I was wearing it at a retreat over the weekend; a retreat where we focused on “Finding Your Life’s Deep Current.” I was always curious when I drove by the place called Spirit Rock, but perhaps a little fearful of what might be behind the gate.
A friend of mine told me about this retreat at Spirit Rock. “It’s a writing retreat,” she said. Always looking for the next step in my writing world, I leaped at the opportunity. Okay, let’s be honest. I studied the website. I tried to read between the lines. I probably read through the entire program at least six times before I found the courage to click on the registration button.
We breathed. We meditated. We listened. We wrote freely at several prompts. And then… we shared our writing with a complete stranger. Not just one stranger. Each prompt was to be shared with a new stranger. Journal writing an be a powerful thing. Standing up to what you have written, sharing with another human being whose path has never crossed yours is emotionally draining yet liberating.
But here’s the thing. As I read my piece to the last stranger, I noticed she was leaning in just a little closer, truly listening to each word. It was her turn. I listened to her read her words and found myself leaning in a little closer absorbing every word. We looked into each others eyes and it was as if we were looking into a mirror. It wasn’t just that we were close in age and our outward appearance was similar – we shared the same inner truths. But that’s not all. I asked her name. “Marge,” she said. “But that’s my name,” I said.
So what does that have to do with “52 Pieces of Me?” I’m not so sure but I have a feeling if I share 52 pieces of me, I might just find some more “Marge’s” out there.
And about the ring… I have abandoned the idea of having only one word for the year. I wore this ring for only a couple of weeks and I can see more clearly now. I could wear a stack of words on my fingers (and I might) but the truth always comes from within.