Gypsy Dies HardGas stations along the highways, especially in Western Pennsylvania, consistently ask for a person’s zip code when paying by ATM or credit card. I like the extra measure of safety. The tricky part is that my zip code is not second nature.

I imagine most people don’t think twice when giving their zip code. I, on the other hand, always have to think twice. The first numbers that casually begin to tumble out of my mouth aren’t current, and they’re not even from the most recent place I’ve lived. Typically, a random zip code from 10-15 years ago is what first comes to mind. I usually stammer for a moment until I get to the current combination of numbers, and then, back on the road again, I take an enjoyable trip down memory lane remembering the zip code that naturally came to mind. The gypsy, certainly, dies hard.

Today at the gas station, I automatically started typing in a zip code and I absent-mindedly got to the third number before I caught myself and thought about it. For a moment, the scene from Ghost came to mind, when Oda Mae Brown (played by Whoopi Goldberg) signs her own name to a signature card at the bank rather than the fraudulent name she was supposed to sign. “Oops, I’m going to need a new card,” she tells the banker as she nervously scribbles out her name. To explain her crazy behavior to the confused banker, she sweetly says, “I signed the wrong name.”

That scene flashed through my mind today and I smiled about it before realizing that this time, I did start typing the correct zip code. After filling up the tank, I got back on the road and thought about all the places I’ve lived, states and addresses for school, internship, jobs, writing assignments, extended stays, family… Today’s natural instinct was to remember where I am. I know exactly where I am, in time and space, for a change.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler who has lived and written in five U.S. states. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at