Progress and History

Mahogany’s training is coming along great. We even ventured out onto a paved road today, although we turned back when we came to a bridge with no pedestrian or bike lane. I want to be just a little surer of Mahogany’s cooperation before I ask her to dash over a bridge during a lull in traffic.

Wildlife encounters on today’s ride included this majestic fellow…

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…some cows that were too deep in the brush to photograph, and the free-roaming herd of horses.

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I think most of the livestock down there uses the river itself to get around the fences between properties. One of these days I’m going to figure out where they’re climbing up and down on the part where I ride, and maybe start exploring that way myself.

** ** **

My Texas driver’s license finally came in the mail. It was a hassle and a half to obtain, and I want to talk about that for a minute.

To get a Texas driver’s license, I needed my California license, my birth certificate, and my social security card. No problem. Except that the surname on my birth certificate is, of course, not the same surname as on my driver’s license. So I was also required to produce a certified marriage license or divorce decree.

Fine, whatever. Except that I don’t have a marriage license among my records, and California does not issue divorce decrees. The closest thing in my court records is a “Notice of Entry of Judgement,” which the California courthouse assured me is the same thing. So I paid $26 for a certified copy of that, and got it in the mail a few days later.

…Only to be told by the Texas Department of Public Safety (the department that issues driver’s licenses in Texas; their DMV is only for vehicle registration) that my document is insufficient because it doesn’t have my maiden name on it. I pointed out that even if it did, that still wouldn’t be the same same as what’s on my birth certificate, since I took my stepfather’s surname when my mom remarried. I said that both of the name changes are formally entered in my Social Security record. The TxDPS replied that they never use Social Security information for anything.

So I have to produce my Social Security card as proof of identification, but my actual Social Security record is of zero use to me in this process.

I explained to them that the 90 days in which I could legally continue to use my California license was almost up, and that NOT driving is not an option for me, and that I can’t possibly be the only divorced woman who has ever moved from California to Texas and needed a new driver’s license, and that there must be some way to make it happen.

They referred the matter to a higher-up, who actually researched the matter online, learned that California does not, in fact, issue divorce decrees, and decided to allow my Notice of Entry of Judgement as a valid document. I feel like it could have gone either way, which is unsetting.

All of this was still fresh in my mind yesterday when I watched a video of the appalling Daily Show interview that cost Don Yelton his job. If you haven’t seen it, basically Yelton proudly admits that one of the main purposes of dismantling the Voting Rights Act is to make it harder for Democrats to vote.

I try not to mix blogging and politics, but the hassle I went through to get a Texas driver’s license — which I assume is the same hassle I would have gone through to get any form of Texas ID that would allow me to vote — was due to a bit of red tape that applies ONLY to women, a demographic that is statistically more likely to vote Democrat. I can’t help but wonder how many other little bits of red tape are scattered throughout the process to make it harder for other target demographics to obtain a valid ID in Republican states.

** ** **

Most of the time, though, progress and history nestle comfortably together here. Texas is seeing an economic boom right now, and construction is going on everywhere. It’s fantastic that the infrastructure is being upgraded while the money is flowing, even if it makes driving around a little scarier in the meantime. But I like that while roads and bridges and buildings are being built or torn apart and reassembled, bits of the past are carefully left in place.

One of my favorite local examples of this is on Bedford Road. This is a pretty, suburban street lined with attractive residences, schools and businesses. It’s wide and well-groomed and parts of it smell distinctly of wealth. But tucked in amongst the houses and churches and shopping centers is this:

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The graves here are old, and the landscaping looks more like an untouched prairie meadow than a typical manicured cemetery lawn.

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And too many of the markers are tiny and sad.

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Gravestones for infants and children always make me want to cry. I can’t imagine the grief.

Next to the cemetery is a Civil War Veterans Memorial.

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I’ve spent most of my adult life in California, a state that wasn’t affected all that much by the Civil War. For me, it’s strange to think of having not-so-distant ancestors whose lives were torn apart by that conflict. The whole thing felt more real and personal as I read the names carved into the stones. Which I guess is the whole point of a memorial.

I like living in a place that remembers and preserves its past even while it reaches energetically toward the future. Texas’ forward progress isn’t always smooth, for sure. I suspect that my struggle to get a driver’s license here may be an indication of that. But DFW has something beautiful to see almost everywhere I look, and I think that says a lot about the people who live here.

I hope that they bring the best of the past into the future, and eventually leave the not-so-great bits behind.

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Categories: Death, Horses, Life, trail rides, Wildlife | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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