There was more than a modicum of fear associated with this move. I spent the rest of the week perseverating over the tiniest of details. How long is the flight? What if I have to go to the restroom on the flight? How will I get around on base? I don’t have a car. I don’t even have a driver’s license. Is it really as hot there as everyone is saying it is? If it’s hotter than Louisiana in summer time, I’m doomed! What do people do for fun there? At least there’s the beach here in Biloxi. Maybe I’d be better off in Florida with Kratzke after all. Ok, ok, ok. I’m ok. Calm down, Michelle. It can’t be that bad. After all, Edwards is in California. There’s plenty to do in California. There are beaches there too, but I bet they’re far away. There can’t actually be an oasis in the desert, could there?
I flew into LAX Saturday afternoon, and the flight was uneventful. No one really paid much attention to me. Besides, this was a time before people openly applauded for servicemen and women when they walked through an airport or said Thank you for your service when you neared them. I think I recall getting a smile or two, and the gentleman sitting next to me allowed me to sit next to the window on the flight here. Other than that, one of my fears was realized. I had to go to the bathroom, and those things are tiny. I have unusually long arms, and I hit my funny bone twice just trying to take my jacket off.
We deplaned, and I made it to baggage claim 20 minutes later. LAX is one huge airport. If you can’t read and follow directions, you are doomed to spend the rest of your life in that airport. I grabbed my duffle bag, strapped it on, and walked in the direction of an Airman holding a sign with my name on it. I thought that only happened in movies, but it happened to me. Soon we were headed to my new home. I couldn’t see much along the way other than sand and Joshua Trees here and there, and it was so dark. It took us two hours to get there. Talking helped to break up the monotony of our pitch black surroundings. I found out that the Airman driving me worked in Transportation, and he drives all day. That’s his job. I told him I didn’t have a license, and he assured me that I would make friends who could take me places or I could just walk.
He helped me get settled into my private room, and showed me where to get food since the chow hall was closed for the night. The snack shack was a little food truck about 1/8 of a mile from my dorm, and they served burgers, fries, chicken, and nachos — all free of charge with a military ID.
The next day was an adventure. Apparently, all the guys in the dorm heard about a new girl who had just arrived in the night. Before the chance meetings started, my neighbor Eric came over to introduce himself. He and I would be working for the Base Commander of this Flight Test Center. He described us as the Top Dogs of all the Peons–not because we had super powers, but because we worked for the most powerful man on the base–hence the perk of having a private room. I soon learned that I was doomed to share my bathroom with another Airman though. Only a locked door separated us, and we had to share this tiny Jack & Jill bathroom. Thankfully, I had a sink in my room, but that bathroom needed some attention–serious attention.