by Cyndia Rios-Myers, Guest Contributor
I know me. Most of the time.
I know what I look like, what my preferences are and what makes me tick. My husband of 14 years knows me on sight. My son knows me in that magnetic way that children know their mommies.
Sadly, though, proving that I am me is tricky.
At our last duty station in another state, I had a lot of people who could vouch for me. My coworkers knew me. I had business cards that bore my name. The caller ID for my office phone and the LED display displayed my name too. Many knew that I was me.
My military family life meant a transfer to another duty station in another state. My work identity (along with my job) was gone. My driver’s license expired.
My primary ID card became my military dependent one, which was alright by me. That laminated pink rectangle gave me the power to drive on military installations, to get cheap gas, to speak to Navy lawyers, to get free medical care and to get discounts from stores out in town as well as the ones on base. The card is so powerful that it makes my expired, out-of-state driver’s license valid.
I never leave home without it.
Still, that powerful pink card does not make me forget about my driver’s license. That card, expired as it is, still holds value. It identifies me in a way that is not dependent on anyone else’s employment. However, when it is threatened, I feel threatened.
The first time my driver’s license was questioned was during my last military ID renewal. I was told that because my ID did not have my hyphenated name on it, that it was not valid. The renewal was held until the renewing authority decided that he would “let it slide.”
The second time it was threatened was the scariest. A notary came to our home to supervise the signing of the closing documents of our home sale. Upon review of my driver’s license, the notary declared it as invalid for signing purposes. With a petrified heart and shocked ears, I listened as he explained the reasoning behind it. Because it has been issued more than 5 years ago, it was not good enough for my signing of documents.
After recovering from my shock, I produced my military ID. The notary then said that my military ID was not a valid ID either.
All while trying to keep my cool, I asked him to provide proof that my military ID was not “good enough.” Calmly, he did.
California notary rules state that:
A United States military identification card with a required photograph, description of the person, signature of the person, and an identifying number is an acceptable paper identification document.
My military ID has a picture. It has my signature and an identifying number too. However, it does not contain a description of me. Once upon a time, dependent IDs listed height, weight and color of hair and eyes. However, they no longer contain describing information.
Thankfully, I was able to find 2 validly licensed individuals to vouch for me and I was able to sign the documents that enabled me to sell my home.
Related: I’m a Mother, Not a Martyr
Along with giving me horrible news about my identification, the notary did give me valid advice. He told me to procure a passport, as it serves as identification that no agency would dare argue with.
As soon as we moved to our new home, I did just that. I found the nearest issuing agency and scheduled a time to go. Along with completed application forms (for myself and my son), I brought along my birth certificate, my marriage certificate, my Social Security card, my driver’s license, and my military dependent ID. Lots of proof of me.
I braced myself for some sort of argument regarding my military ID being valid as identification, but did not need to. The passport lady smiled as they took my picture, my forms and my money. I smiled too.
I feel more secure now, having my passport, my military ID and my driver’s license too. My pictures are on all 3, along with my distinctive name.
As of last week, I am a licensed California driver, with a current address, current name (my old driver’s license had my maiden name on it) and with an expiration date that is far into the future. It’s a good piece of armor for me.
However, I know that my passport, my military ID and my driver’s license are not watertight vouchers for my identity. At any given time, some official in some office somewhere might find a reason to null the value of any one of them.
I simply have to remind myself that I have time on my side; time to prove that I am me to those who would question that. Perhaps time will also serve to remind me that my personal value is not something that can be questioned by others.
Cyndia Rios-Myers is a writer based out of San Diego, whose past experiences include 6 years in the Navy (full of lovely sea-sickness), many adventures working in customer service, and being happily dragged across the country while her husband finishes his own career in the military. When not writing essays, articles, women’s fiction/suspense novels, or paranormal novellas, Cyndia can be found reading, cooking, hiking, homeschooling her son, watching HGTV, or unapologetically wasting time on Pinterest and other social media outlets. You can keep up with her musings at http://cyndiariosmyers.blogspot.com/ or on Twitter at @criosmyers.