Reflections at the DMV

I remember when I got this driver’s license photo taken in 2006. I looked down at the expiration date on it and thought to myself, “May, 2018, wow, that’s a long ways off.  I’ll be nearly 41 years old then.”  And now here I am. It’s now 2018 and indeed I am nearly 41 years old, and it’s time to renew my driver’s license photo.
This morning, like everyone else at the DMV, I get in line.  Take my ticket and wait for the automated voice to call my number.  While I wait, I take a closer look at the photograph on my license. This photograph of me that is about to expire.

The girl  this photo is 29 years old. She’s just returned from her honeymoon in Europe.  She really likes her new married name, Archer.  She looks at her wedding ring a lot.  It isn’t scratched up yet. She’s never lost it.  She gestures gingerly with it on.  She doesn’t use an eyebrow pencil.  She isn’t comfortable showing her teeth yet when she smiles.  The newly married girl in this photo doesn’t know her husband’s every mannerism, and the implicit meaning behind it all. All her grandparents are still alive. She has never attended a funeral for a close friend. Her mother isn’t yet 60, isn’t completely blind.
This young woman just finished her Texas teaching exams.  She doesn’t know it, but she’s about to get  a teaching job at a low income middle school.  It’s a job that will  make her have to reached deep down inside for confidence and strength.  It’s a job that will inform her as a mother.
She lives on South Lamar. Her first home as a married woman.  She owns two pots and one pan.  She doesn’t know how to make artichokes yet. She doesn’t know how to live on a budget. She’s never hosted a baby shower. She’s never sat up all night with a sick child.  She thinks she’s impervious to wrinkles. She free-writes almost everyday.  She wants to write her first book.  But what genre? She wants this first book to be about her childhood moving around the world with the Billy Graham Association.  She’s thinking of going by Jess instead of Jessica.
This young woman isn’t a mother yet.  She’s never held her own newborn child.  She doesn’t know their faces like her own breath.  Children are far off stars in the sky still.  It will be three more years before she dreams of them falling into her arms.  Three more years before she wakes up to a longing to be a mother.  This young woman reads more than she talks, and she daydreams more than she plans.  She has no idea how life will look at 40.  She hasn’t really thought about it much.  She hums when she walks, and nothing in her life feels like it will ever expire.