Wednesday, September 16, 2009

88: A Woman Without A State

I feel so set adrift. I have no mooring, no place to call home.

Ok, that's a little melodramatic. But I am sort of in limbo.

In September 2007, Cale and I packed everything we owned into the bed of a pickup truck and drove out of Florida. We took the long way "home" to Indiana. I have lived in Indiana for a total of 20 of my 28 years of life. I will always be a Hoosier. Indiana was more than just home in our heart, it was our address of record with the Peace Corps (we used my parents in Indy).

Which state to now claim as my own didn't really occur to me until I was already in Samoa and trying to apply for an absentee ballot. Florida, my last state of residents refused to claim me.

"But I have a Florida driver's license," I implored.

"Do you live in Florida?" Florida asked.

"Well, no. Not now. But it was the last place I lived in America," I explained.

Florida was having none of it.

"Do you work in Florida?" Florida pried?

"I used to work in Florida," I tried.

"Do you own property in Florida?" Florida asked in exasperation.

"Never," I said and hung my head in shame.

Indiana, my address of record, also refused to claim me.

"So, you don't live here?" Indiana asked.

"No," I replied sheepishly.

"And you don't have any utilities in your name or a drivers license or anything?" Indiana offered hopefully?

"No," I said. "Just this address of record thing."

Indiana looked askance and shunned me for the rest of the evening.

So I didn't get an absentee ballot, which upset me until I saw Obama take both Florida (yay) and Indiana (wtf). Not to get all political here for a moment, I personally wasn't for or against Obama, but I was certainly frightened of Sarah Palin. Oh if only McCain could have won the primary against Bush in 2000, what a different world it would be (she said wistfully remembering the days before McCain became a crazy person).

*Note to people joining the Peace Corps: Get the absentee ballot before you move or anything.

I went back to being obliviously unconcerned with my lack of a state. And then I decided to apply for grad school. The application wants to know if I am an Indiana resident. And I have no idea. I am not an anything resident. My Florida drivers license doesn't expire until 2011, but they have already told me they don't want me. My address of record is Indiana, but IU wants you to have lived in Indiana for 12 months prior to the start of school (for reasons other than academic) and I will only be living in Indiana for about six months before school begins in August.

I imagine that Americans sell everything they own and move overseas all the time (right?) What do you do when you haven't lived in America for an extended period of time and you don't own any property? Are you just a non-entity? Surely you can still lay claim to one of the states as your own?

— Sara

The Way Back Machine

1 comment:

Barb Carusillo said...

I would imagine somehow, someway the Peace Corp would have dealt with this problem in the past with their other RPCVs....I bet there has been a least one or two in their shoes. I bet the folks in the IU program for you guys have some answers.