I live in a Fort. I had imagined it as two sheets strung up between a couch and a chair with a fan blowing the walls out, but it is actually a permanent fixture. I live on an Army base. It’s really referred to as “post,” as “base” refers to Air Force installations, but we are all too ignorant to know that.
To gain access to the base, one must present their military ID and pray they look natural enough to avoid a “random” car search. Actually, I think they are random.
My initial impression of the base was that it was drab. Basically all browns, cream, and green. The street signs are brown. My house is brick with brown shutters.
If you watched LOST, you will have an idea of what I mean by saying living on base initially felt like being apart of the Dharma Initiative. It’s a self-sustaining entity with erie uniformity, complemented by hundreds of soldiers in uniform. I could pretty much do everything I needed to do without leaving the base; church, buy a Coach bag, bowl a frame. The other Dharma-y thing is the music that plays at random times of the day over the loud speakers. I don’t think the DI had loud speakers, but I bet The Others were all getting messages by something similar. And then going through the gate and having soldiers hand back my ID and say some colloquial phrase to which there was no natural response; “Airborne!” Lastly and most annoyingly, there was the full month of bombs or dinosaurs collapsing in the distance so that our windows shook. “The Island” didn’t have wars, but imagine frequent plane crashes and hatch explosions.
After seven months, I don’t notice those things anymore. This base feels more like a community or town. I like the fact that being familiar with this place is esoteric to military families. I also like the fact that I’ll know what to expect when we head to our next duty station, because the bases basically have the same things, except at smaller bases, people get out of their cars and stand at attention when the music, Reveille, plays over the speakers!
Although living on base seems to be the equivalent coolness of living in the dorms after sophomore year, we appreciate the convenience of it along with the fact that we don’t have to mow our own grass. I see my husband more than most wives see theirs because he can come home for all his breaks during the day. We are both high and low maintenance enough that having our yard taken care of and not separately paying rent, water, and gas and electric, is worth living in an old duplex that is almost identical to every other house within a 1-mile radius.
Even though there will always be crime, I feel pretty safe living on base, which is part of why my husband chose for us to live here. He was concerned about me being in an unsecured neighborhood when he’s gone, but I just moved from St. Louis, Missouri… I don’t care for having to show my id all the time, or that fact that none of my civilian friends can just drive up to my house, but I admit that makes me feel safe as well.
For the readers who aren’t familiar with military installations, what did you expect living on base to be like? For my fellow “basic” civilians, what was your first impression of living on base?