For the last 3 years, almost to the day, we have not had a house and as such, an official address. During these 3 years we have moved 6 times. Our stays have ranged in time from 2 weeks to almost 2 years. Throughout each of our living arrangements we maintained our NJ licenses and our official address was still our home. Even after we sold the foundation and property in April 2013, I kept my license as is, unable to move on.
Registering Lady J for kindergarten proved to be difficult without our local address being ours. But given our circumstances, we were allowed. There was a homeless form in her packet that I honestly had to hold back tears when I saw it. Was that us? Do I need to fill that out? Are we homeless? I didn’t complete it, since we live in my in-laws’ house…but it didn’t lessen the blow or make me feel any more home-ful.
I had looked into changing everything over to PA after a small hit & run incident outside Lady J’s school this winter, that left my driver’s side mirror cracked. I called and waited for the police. After taking my report, he told me he would “let it go this time” but that I need to get my PA license and reregister my car here. It was illegal for her to go to school here since we’re not officially residents. “Great!” I thought, holding back more tears and choking back the lump in my throat.
I went back to my in-laws’ to look up the needed information. In order to change everything over, I needed to show proof of residency. Looking over the list of acceptable proof opened the floodgates. I quickly closed out of the page and shutdown my laptop. It was too hard, still too soon, still not OUR home….
I tried to ignore it and hoped it would go away. But eventually, it was time. My husband gathered his proof of residency: w2 form, tax return, and our bank statement.
Mine was more difficult, as I don’t have a w2 to prove my address, utilities are not in our name, and cell phone bills are not acceptable forms of proof. In order for me to prove my residency, I had to bring my father-in-law as additional verification. (I should note that in the end, he was not needed, but that didn’t help quell the emotional aspect of the situation.)
My husband asked me to gather all official documents which were miraculously saved during “The Event”: birth certificates, passports, our marriage license (since I never updated my passport), and social security cards.
I opened up the manila envelope that I had placed them in the week following “The Event.” I had needed them to get a new NJ license as mine had perished in our home.
A haunting smell of burnt ash wafted upwards as I slid the contents onto our bed. The charred pages stirred flashes of memories back to that horrific day and the weeks that followed. I could feel my blood coursing through my body. My arm hair stood straight as if shock had taken over, again…
I put all of the pages back in the envelope and we left for the DMV.
I handed over my NJ license today, and with it, a little piece of my heart…