PJ Nutting is a graduate of the University of Colorado with degrees in journalism and music. He has written for The Boulder Weekly and The Coloradoan. He recently received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California-Riverside. He currently resides in Vietnam, teaching English and writing.
Before I could walk into the DMV, a lady said hello, and how are you today, are you registered to vote?
She smiled, showing she understood she was an inconvenience standing in front of a famously inconvenient place. I said, yes, I’m a registered voter in this county, thanks for asking. I had also registered voters at tables just like this one, a fold-out table with leaflets and clip-boards at the end of a suburban strip mall. It was the time of year when the sun bakes the parking lot but won’t touch the chill in the shadows. The volunteer was radiant and straight-backed, her silver ponytail hung across a purple fleece zip-up. The knot of her silk scarf looked nice, as did the pleasant smile on her face.
The queue inside the DMV didn’t look too long. We made vague statements about the weather. Another volunteer in a similar zip-up huddled in the shadow of the stone awning, looking out into the parking lot.
I was in a great mood. I announced I was at the DMV to get a motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license. I had just finished the beginner’s motorcycle safety course at the community college down the street. I was planning to leave for a backpacking trip across southeast Asia. There was a flourish of silk scarf over her shoulder.
So, she said, you’re a traveler.
Soon, I learned where she had been, how she wanted to leave again, and how it changed her life. She announced my certain compatibility with India. I was skeptical of that kind of hippie prognostication. India might be a really bad time, I guess I’ll find out, but I still felt a little charmed and didn’t say anything. Then, her story about travelling in South America was interrupted by a look of recognition that settled into a smile.