Today I drive to Fort Lewis (my first time on the base) so that my daughter can keep her appointment with the on-base attorney (Army JAG) to help her with the mortgage. When soldiers deploy they may be eligible for a drop in the interest on their home mortgage.
We have baby Ciena, the stroller and a lunch box to keep her busy while her Mom is in the law office. But first we stop for the day pass that requires my auto insurance, registration, driver's license and soc #. The clerk at the window, when it's my turn, is a friendly young woman wearing red fingernail polish.
I watch the TV tuned to the weather station as she processes my pass that allows me to enter the gate where we are screened once again to compare my car plates with what's been recorded on the pass. I'm told to drive in the right lane only.
We pass the commissary and a Burger King with a long line of over 30 cars waiting to order at the drive thru. We notice a sign for the Easter egg hunt next weekend and my daughter wonders if it will be all single parents with their children. Beyond the open field on Leggett Avenue is a building that appears to be a child care center with brightly colored climbing equipment in the yard but no one playing outside. Near the parking lot is a stand of evergreens and the midday rain intensifies the hues of green.
My daughter runs across the parking lot with her portfolio of necessary papers while I remain behind with Ciena to eat the picnic lunch. Then we drag the stroller out and walk the sidewalk to feed the squirrel but Ciena prefers to walk. The squirrel is well-fed, accustomed to handouts, so I stand in between just in case, and show Ciena how to toss the squirrel her leftover bread crusts she's held tightly in her fist.
Ciena's also interested in the soldiers who walk by. Michael's been gone close to three weeks. This morning she pointed to a photo on the refrigerator. When I asked, Where's Daddy? she pointed to Michael. When Michael returns in 15 months, she'll be twice her age.