It's taken two days of running here and there, but I'm now auto-insured, registered, tagged, licensed and inspected. My sweet Ruby has shed her Pennsylvania license plate for a pair of shiny new Massachusetts tags.
I am now paying $200 more per year to drive in a semi-rural area. Maybe I can blame it on the moose and bear. Cripes. I guess if you hit one of those, you've got a helluva lot of collision damage to pay for. When I express my surprise at the higher rates, the insurance agent shakes her head and sneeringly replies "Welcome to Taxachusetts."
I pick up the local paper while waiting for the car to be inspected. I read of 70-year-old widows who are sculling on the local lakes and 73-year-old bachelors who are doing community service and leading yoga classes. I'm feeling intimidated as I haven't even unpacked all my moving boxes. The auto shop has barbershop chairs installed in their waiting room. Quirky but comfortable. If you want something even more nostalgic, there's an old-fashioned dentist chair complete with drill. Is this going to be a painful experience? Luckily, their bill for inspection is the cheapest outlay of the day. I'm good to go.
Driving around without my former inspection stickers glued to the left side of the car window is a bit disorienting. The Massachusetts sticker goes on the right side of the car. Yes, it's a small change but it still makes me feel like something has, indeed, shifted. I've been coming up here for five years to visit and now suddenly I and my car are a part of the local landscape. I remind Ruby to be on good behavior and not cause any traffic jams nor embarrass me with a moving violation.
I'm tired and a bit low on cash but look for the positive. The mountains loom around me. I drive up through a state reservation, the car climbing the twisting roads higher and higher. I'm feeling quite alone and then pass a mountain biker who is tackling what, to me in the car, seems to be the Mt. Everest of mountain biking. Bikers and scullers. Somewhere in between, I hope to find my calling.
Postscript: I phoned the sheriff to ask for the location of the motor-vehicle registry and he's actually called me back twice since then. He's a golfer. I won't need the bowling ball.