Finally, Henry the 1990 Ford Taurus is officially a resident of New Jersey!
I tell people it took me so long to move him here because I have a fear of commitment. That's a joke, but not entirely untrue. I had no intention of staying in JC when I bought a place here in November of 2002. My intention was to buy an unrenovated place for a good price ($125k) then fix it up, rent it out long enough to earn some equity, and then sell it at some point. My primary residence would be with Turbo in Australia.
But then I couldn't actually stay in Australia without the fiancee or marriage visa, and for various reasons (on his end, an unwillingness to deal, on my end, an unwillingness to push it since I was pretty sure spending the rest of my life in rural Oz was not going to get me anywhere), that didn't happen. So the two of us bounced back and forth—Oz to US, US to Oz—until the bouncing stopped, both of us wedged into our respective homes, staking our claims and refusing to budge.
So there I was, in JC. And during this whole battle of geographical wills, I'd given my car to my sister. Henry was an official resident of Virginia, and even after I took him back, I didn't make any changes to his pedigree. After all, I was leaving town, moving to Barcelona, moving to Uganda, moving to Kuwait, moving to Cairo. Henry the Ford lived with my sister, lived in the parking lot at Liberty Storage, lived in my garage.
Since late 2007, I've been back. And since the middle of 2008, I've been determined to stay back. And finally, last week, I finished the paperwork. Mission accomplished. I have been victorious in my quest to stay home and re-grow roots.
(Which does, incidentally, mean I would be psychologically qualified to leave again. That makes sense to me, anyway.)
There were hiccups in the transfer process. The NJ DMV didn't like my title. My sister had to go back to the Virginia DMV and get a new one, then send it back to me. I took a second trip up to Journal Square. This time, I left with perfect, new NJ plates. My visiting friend changed the plates for me last Friday. (Yes, I could have done it. But he's a handy sort of guy, so I performed the difficult task of handing him the screwdriver.)
The old Virginia plates looked absolutely disgusting. These were the third set of plates for Henry during my time with him. First, he'd had California plates. Then New York. I don't remember what either of those looked like when they were retired. The California ones probably didn't look like much. For TurboTour 2002, we'd driven Henry from Los Angeles to New York, via San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, Utah, Texas, New Orleans, and Virginia.
Henry looks proud and dazzling in his NJ plates. And since he'd spent his first 100,000 miles of life in tough-on-emissions southern California, I thought maybe he'd pass the emissions test for NJ.
But maybe not.
And that's one reason I'd delayed moving my car to NJ. I didn't want to deal with the uncertainty of the inspection. I called my mechanic, who told me that I had to go to a designated inspection center, and if anything was wrong, the mechanic had to be on an official list of emissions repair mechanics. He gave me a name.
I called, but because my car is pre-1996, I'd have to go to the public inspection facility in Secaucus. If Henry did not pass, I'd head to the official repair mechanic.
So Friday morning, nervously, I looked up directions to the official New Jersey inspection center, and headed over.