When I hit the front gate of the base yesterday, I asked for building 20. Two months ago I had called the Pass and ID office for an appointment.
There was disbelief in the man’s voice. “First come. first served,” he said.
I asked for directions. “The same place as always,” was his answer.
I had to explain that the last time I got an ID, I was in Carson City, NV. It was easy to find the office. I just went to the building next to where my hubby worked, cross the gym, and up the stairs in the back. It was a small base so the building was easy to find.
“Just ask the guard at the gate,” he said.
So yesterday, after I handed my ID that would expire in twenty days, I asked. The gate guard was younger, less world-weary, than that anonymous voice on the phone. He kindly gave me good directions.
So I sat in a hard chair filled with waiting soldiers and a few civilians. I guess I am technically a civilian now even though I am a veteran. I did serve six years in the Navy.
I noticed that the cream walls hadn’t been painted in a long time. The chairs were older. The male and female soldiers wore neatly pressed camouflage with their ranks prominent on their upper arms.
My late hubby would have laughed at AF warriors wearing camou. He believed after being in Vietnam for three tours that rank patches should not be on them. It just made it easier for the enemy to shoot the officers, he would say.
As I waited for an hour, I was surprised at the shabbiness of this building. No one seemed to notice how old everything had gotten. I remember when this base had been shinier.
Then a young soldier sitting by me called me “Ma’am.”
I smiled. I couldn’t fool myself anymore. I was getting older with wrinkles. Not unlike this room.