This week is a personal milestone of sorts for the “Jake” of Jake.News. It marks my 20th year as a resident of The Empire State. This realization was thrust upon me a few days ago when I received a letter from the DMV advising that it was time to renew my NY driver’s license. The sincere, yet curt letter went on to state that, this time around I would not be able to simply log into my DMV profile and pay the fee online to renew. Further, my friends at the division of motor vehicles, in a round-about way of telling me that I was getting really old, implored me show up in person and take a vision exam in order to extend my driving privileges. I figured that since I was going to have to make the personal visit, I should probably get an updated photo. My current DL photo from 2002 shows me wearing that same early aughts Fred Durst (or worse) looking chin beard as seen in the photo above. So, yeah… I woke up early one morning, put on one of my finest collared tee shirts and rolled over to the Division. I was happy to see that the State of New York is still employing the same photo booth tech from 2002. The rest was a blur (though not literally, because I did pass the vision exam). I’m told that in a few weeks’ time, an updated NYDL showcasing my salt & pepper bearded mug will land in my mailbox.
Thinking back to August 2002- I has just completed a cross country trip in a U-Haul full of crap that I had deemed as really important, but that in retrospect should have actually just been thrown out/donated before I moved. On a trailer behind the U-Haul truck, I had towed a beat up second-hand A4, 6-speed that I loved and kinda wish I still had. I was finally permanently extracting myself from the social safety net of my childhood and adolescence. It was extremely liberating and terrifying all at once. I had a pretty good handle on west coast culture at the time. However, the east coast was a complete black box to me. I knew there was a lot of important stuff going on over there, which is exactly why I needed to check it out first hand. I’m getting a bit into the weeds.
Back to the point- I can actually still remember the first time I walked into a New York DMV. I was aged mid-20s. Thought I knew everything about everything, just like every idiot recent college grad, right? That’s what I try to tell myself anyway. When my newly minted NYDL arrived in the mail two decades ago, to me it was tangible evidence that I had committed to figuring out what NY was all about.
Completing 10 years in NY seemed like at big deal at the time. Right or wrong, I started referring to myself as a New Yorker around that era. My chin beard had thankfully fallen by the wayside about 8 years prior. I had, by then, spent the majority of my adult life in the city. The global economy was still recovering from the ‘big recession,’ and I was splitting my energy pretty evenly between lawyering and photography/writing. My age and accompanying maturity finally allowed me to realize how little I actually knew about anything. In turn, it also allowed me to admit to myself that I had made some massive mistakes in prior years and finally start working through the arduous process to correct course. The liberating result of those efforts have culminated in what was sort of a personal golden era. Part of me wished those times could have stretched out indefinitely.
Fast forward another decade– 20 years in NY seems like a lot less of a big deal than I would have guessed. Just kinda seems like I have always been here. I still make mistakes (publishing this post might be one of them, haha), albeit, I would like to think that they are less frequent and less large scale than some from the years of yore. It also feels like I’m in the middle of another personal golden era, which I’m doing my best to maximize and extend for as long as possible. I’m very glad that I made the decision to move to New York. If I wait another 20 years to retake my driver’s license photo, it will probably be my last one!