The Global War on Terror

It’s a yearly August ritual, for this American ex-patriate: a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV in American parlance) out at Nagaoka-tenjin. I am there to renew my Kyoto-issued International Driver’s license so that I can pilot a rented car in my own home country. There’s no such thing as an “American” driver’s license (a quirk of our federal system); there are only state licenses. When I tried some years ago to renew my Michigan license from abroad, I was refused. I had to come back to Kalamazoo and prove my residence there, they told me. When I tried to obtain a new Georgia state license last year the clerk demanded that I forfeit my Japanese license first. I couldn’t get any better explanation out of either DMV than a familiar American shibboleth: 9/11. The new strictures are part of the so-called global war on terror, it seems. So the world wags, the American world anyway. And with my Kyoto-issued International Driver’s License I will, next week, rent a car in my hometown of Augusta, Georgia––a semi-tropical place where the cicadas, this time of year, fairly howl in the heat of the afternoon.

louder than the bus
to Nagaoka-tenjin Station,
the cicadas call––
license to go home