One of the main reasons I wanted to come up to Vermont so soon, besides the obvious reason of visiting my parents, was to get my driver’s license renewed. It expired (and got stolen) when I was in Brazil and over the past week I’ve been doing my best to drive Dennis’ car at or below the posted speed limit. I have been a little nervous about all the driving considering I haven’t really driven since New Zealand, and even then it was all backwards anyway.
So my friend James picked me up this morning and brought me to Montpelier, the capitol city of Vermont. I had been expecting to go to Burlington’s DMV, which is the only one I knew about to begin with, and also only twenty or so minutes away from home. But James was intent on showing me the Montpelier DMV and so away we drove in his 1977 yellow Mercedes-Benz that is in perfect condition. Instead of taking the interstate, we drove along the country roads from Jericho to Montpelier, through Richmond, and Waterbury and finally drove into the parking lot of the Montpelier DMV, where there was one wide parking space available for us. Into the 1930s art deco building we walked to fill out forms and wait for what was sure to be several hours, and less than fifteen minutes later, out again we walked with the procured new documents. Amazing.
Had I tried to do this in Brazil, I am quite positive it would have taken an entire day, or longer because I probably would not have come prepared with the required documents or stool samples that the Federal Police uses to process nearly every single piece of legal paper. Needless to say, I fell in love with Vermont and the US even more because of this glorious DMV experience. I’ve moved now out beyond the flirting stage with this country. I’m done passing notes to it in class, I’m done drawing hearts around its name on my English binder. No, I am head over heels in love with this place and I want to have its babies.
But enough of waxing patriotic. I’ll do my best to keep this post short and to the point. After the DMV, James and I went for a quick and very cheap lunch at a Mexican joint next door and across the street from the Capitol. I ordered cheese quesadillas (which James later overheard an older woman pronounce “kway-sa-dee-ya”) and had a Corona, neither of which I can have in Brazil, and satisfied my daily intake of salt and light beer. (Not that light beer is a daily intake. Salt is.) We decided to walk down to the State and Main intersection, at which there is a Ben & Jerry’s. I didn’t have the heart to tell James (nor the balls as a Vermonter to admit) that I’d actually already had Ben & Jerry’s since my return to the States in Providence on Monday when I went up to visit a friend of mine and see my old cat Francis. But we skipped the B&J today and wandered the streets for a little while until the need to return to sitting on my ass in my living room overwhelmed me and I told James I had to go back home, refusing to give any solid reason for it other than “I want to go home.”
On the walk back through the city streets, I was about to dip into the Main street theater to use the bathroom when James suggested I use the facilities in our state capitol. This, then, began the half-hour private tour of the Vermont State government offices and a delightful viewing of both the Governor’s office and the ladies room that our state senators use when in session. James loves Vermont and knows all there is to know about it. He regularly sits in on Senate sessions (is that even what it’s called? I don’t know; he kept saying “session,” so I’ll just call it that) and showed me the rooms where they meet and gave me the biographies of the governors whose paintings hang in the wide hallways. He led me up to the side entrance of the capitol building and down the hallway into the center where I suddenly became nervous, seeing an old woman sitting at a desk. Was I allowed to pee in the capitol? Was it okay for just a regular person, let alone a regular person who hadn’t set foot in Vermont in a year and who still calls herself a “Vermonter” and who had shamefully eaten Ben & Jerry’s icecream in Providence, Rhode Island allowed to use the official goverment bathrooms? And use the side entrance like she’d lived there the whole time and was just coming in like a neighbor? And who didn’t even know the governor’s name? I felt like a traitor and a fraud. And so, approaching the old lady, I asked for permission to use the loo, and in doing so, asked for forgiveness for being such a sorry Vermonter. I believe the woman felt sympathy for this meek girl who approached her for directions to the bathroom, and I believe she sensed she was doing more for me than simply pointing toward the toilets. She smiled. And in that smile, I think she forgave me.
So, I peed, and that was that, and now I’m home and happily doing what it was I wanted to do all day: sit on my ass in the living room. I hear the wind in the trees and a cool breeze coming through the room, the river’s down below and the occasional car drives by. I could ask for nothing more right now except more of this, and maybe a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s.