One of the highlights of our trip to Texas with our son was a visit to Fort Sam Houston.
We drove round the outside of the fort one day and it was huge. Not huge like Texas, this was really, really, really huge. I could hardly believe as we crossed yet another intersection that the fence nearby was still the same boundary.
But on another day, we really went inside. As we stopped at the gate to have our IDs checked, I found myself trying to remember if I still look like my drivers' license photo. I think there's more than a few extra gray hairs, but we all passed inspection anyway. Our son then drove us past a perfectly ordinary-looking gas station, and stopped on the parking lot of what looked, at least to me, like a regular Home Depot. Of course it wasn't, and I really shouldn't have been so surprised at the washing machine sale inside. Even army personnel have to wash their clothes.
Another drive, along quiet roads, past wide intersections where the only sign that this wasn't just another small town was the prevalence of army uniforms, we stopped on another parking lot. "This is the commissary," says our son, not that I've any real idea what a commissary is. He said we had to look inside, and somehow I imagined I'd see some kind of grocery store. How wrong I was!
Inside the unprepossessing doors was a large shopping mall. The "anchor" store seemed like a really good Target with everything from sunglasses to cereal to TVs. "I'll have to show my ID to buy stuff," said our son, and again, a surprisingly large number of the shoppers were in uniform--well, only surprising if the resemblance to Target had you forgetting where you were, which is what it did to me.
We found an "Army Mom" tee-shirt in my size--army green with pink writing. I was feeling a bit like a genuine army mom by now, so we decided to buy it.
More driving led to streets of houses that reminded me of movies I've seen. It's strange to think this is my son's world now--not just a movie set. There were large official buildings where he said he'd had training lectures, a hospital where he's going to work, more offices... It felt like a small town.
And the sun beat down, because it was Texas of course.
I saved the tee-shirt to wear in summer at home. But home is Oregon and summer's been steadfastly refusing to start. Still, it looks warm and sunny outside today, so I'm wearing my army mom tee-shirt with pride as my son continues his career.
I really am an army mom.