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To Marry a Man

My lesson from 9/11.

by
Leslie Loftis

Bio

September 12, 2013 - 11:00 am

Wedding Dance

A friend started a “where were you on 9/11″ thread. Of course, I remember. Everyone does. But I hadn’t looked closely at my memories in a while. I wasn’t in any position of consequence. My account didn’t seem worth examining. But today I remembered something, something I’d gotten so accustomed to I’d forgotten it was once new.

I had started volunteering for Orlando Sanchez for mayor as his scheduler a few weeks earlier. My husband and I were just shy of a year married and had gotten fed up with double law firm life. We hardly saw each other. He traveled and I had a pager for weekend duty. (I was a maritime attorney. Ships collide on the same schedule that babies arrive — whenever.) I had resumes out for in-house positions but didn’t want to be unemployed while looking, hence the political campaign, which suited me well.

That day Orlando’s schedule was easy in the morning and loaded in the afternoon. So I had a leisurely walk and arrived at HQ after nine. It was quiet. Political headquarters are never that quiet.

After going though messages, I found everyone in the meeting room around a TV.  The second plane had just hit.
I remember puzzling at the smoke and then asking. They answered. I distinctly remember thinking of spraining an ankle, you know, how you have about two beats knowing that this is going to hurt right before the pain floods in? I could re-stage the room from my memory of those two beats.

When the Pentagon got hit, I called my husband and asked him to leave his skyscraper office. The Houston Ship Channel is close to downtown. A solid hit there could produce extensive secondary damage. He refused. He would not hide or flee — he threw out many wobbly verbs to counter my pleas. I naively called my father-in-law to ask him to pull rank on my husband. He answered me gently but was no less resolute than his son.

I was so frustrated with him. Didn’t he understand that I was scared? And in that moment, I finally realized what it was to marry a man — not just a male, but a man. He would stand in harm’s way, regardless of the hurt I might face to lose him. I caught my first glimpse of that solemn pride.

Now, I rely upon his resolve just as I am terrified of it. The burden gets worse, knowing I’m raising my son to be that kind of man. One day it could cost me more than I could bear. But my husband has his resolve. And I have mine.

Leslie Loftis is a recovering lawyer, a housewife, and a mother of 4. She is also a serial Texpatriate, most recently returned from London, England.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
>> I finally realized what it was to marry a man — not just a male, but a man. He would stand in harm’s way, regardless of the hurt I might face to lose him. I caught my first glimpse of that solemn pride.

What a beautiful expression of a fundamental truth. So many will not know what you mean. In an era where feminine values now dominate it is not an average woman who will recognize what is lost as men are increasingly taught by their single or domineering mothers, or the school systems that promote and support this understanding, to affirm feminine values as their own. And yet our experience, and even our best art and drama still knows it too. Well, shared experience like Ms. Loftis communicates gives me hope that the common sense and experience of our wiser heads isn't lost. So beautiful.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Same thing goes for the other gender, too. It is well to marry a woman, not just a female. Being principled counts for everyone, regardless of gender.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (19)
All Comments   (19)
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You're a blessed woman!
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
May God continue to bless you and yours as he already has in your mate.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
To begin, I do know Leslie AND the man to whom she is married. I rarely comment but this piece led me to think of horrible memories of that day, yet thankful for the man who asked me to marry him on September 13th of that awful year.

You see, I was in Hong Kong on September 11th...my first trip to Asia and my first going that far alone. I had also recently fallen in love with a man I knew would tolerate my need for independence and travel. I remember arriving in Hong Kong and feeling wonderful, work, home life, everything was great and I was in Hong Kong of all places! I wandered around for a day and the jet lag hit in a horrible horrible way...I turned on CNN and passed out in my room in the late morning. I remember the shouting and how groggy I was waking up to the television announcers raised voices. I saw the hole in the first building and saw the plane coming toward the second buildiing. I shouted at the TV that there was a plane...the rest was a blur. Calling home,work telling me to cut my trip short, to come home...calling the airport. I was the first international flight to land at Newark after 9/11. We approached with the smell of smoke and the horrible cloud of dust still in the air albeit two days later.

For the first time I could remember all I wanted to be was taken care of. Greg picked me up and brought me to my apartment where he had flowers and wine and chocolate cake...which I did not want. I finally gave in and found the diamond ring in the chocolate cake.

Neither of us have ever been able to understand the horrors of that day but Greg was determined to make life count for us every second after that...we were married a few months later. All of our friends have marriages like this...with strong women and even stronger men who stand up and take their marriages seriously. Leslie, I think you know we are a special group of women who stand next to a very, very, special group of men. Any of them would stand in harms way for us without a second's hesitation. It's rare to know men of honor...I'm am priveldged to be close friends with many.

xxoo
Marietta
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Welcome to commenting, M! And I can't believe I didn't know that story. I knew about the chocolate cake, but not the date and flight. For the rest, how right you are.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
As a Father who has lost a son, you would be surprised at what you can bear.

Teach them well and let them go, for it will be a wonderment to you when they prosper and succeed.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have been married twice. I was often far too keenly aware of my feelings about how my first spouse's behavior reflected on me and I would complain if he acted in ways that didn't match my own sensibilities.
During my wedding to my current husband, we were in a large hall and someone wandered in mistakenly and was making a bit of a ruckus at the back of the room. We were facing each other at the time and I saw my husband turn toward the ruckus and I thought, "He's going to go start a fight with that man." And then I thought, "It's alright - he'll be back." (BTW, he didn't leave, the ruckus ended, and the wedding resumed.) Part of being with a man who is uncompromisingly a man is that I must be someone who understands that moments that I may not understand are just part of our wonderful mystery. Maybe that's part of what being a woman instead of a girl is.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
My father's mother was a Joy off Nantucket. In that culture woman had to run the show while the men were at sea. Grandmother knew her value and pulled her load. I married a fellow Orange because I love em tough and smart.

Hopkins was a surprise: I have never seen so many truly weak in one place. I grew up in Colorado, and one of my fellows asked if I climbed in MD. I said no because there was no one there whom I would trust on the other end of a rope.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Beautifully said, Leslie. I came to this same realization early in our marriage when we lived in sort of a sketchy neighborhood. Every few weeks we would be entertained with kids fighting in the streets, domestic disputes, or drug activities within earshot of our house. My instinct was to hide inside and peek out from behind the blinds. My husband would flip the porch light on and go out onto the porch. He said he thought his presence might be a deterrent and besides, there should be witnesses if anything happened. I still don't understand this side of him, but I've come to accept it.

He works in a high rise in downtown Cleveland and on 9/11 I was on the phone begging him to hurry home. Of course, he wasn't worried and part of him wanted to stick around in case anything happened and help was needed. Unfortunately, he got stuck in a parking deck for several hours when the gate malfunctioned and then traffic backed up after they evacuated most of the city. Since then, he has rarely parked in a deck -- he can't stand not being in control of the situation. He would rather walk 20 minutes to his office than give up that control. Men!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Does yours do the restaurant thing? Mine has some indecipherable, to me at least, rules about sitting with his back to the room or door. Corners, place, and reflections affect his calculus, so even thought waiters might offer me a seat first, I wait for him. Otherwise he spends the whole meal with a head turning tic.
My favorite though, was a story I cut from a preparedness piece that'd I'd done in response to your series post Boston manhunt. Not long after the Batman theater shooting, a half dozen husbands sat around my dining room table discussing not if they would shield their wives, but how. Over wine and olives they gamed the best ways to push us out of the line of fire and even apologized to us in advance for any injury they might cause should the terrible occasion arise. And that wasn't the family crew that xmdavis mentioned above, but professional friends. Sometimes I forget this attitude isn't common.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is he a veteran, or from a rough part of town? That would explain it. Also if his father was a vet, and picked it up from him.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
>> I finally realized what it was to marry a man — not just a male, but a man. He would stand in harm’s way, regardless of the hurt I might face to lose him. I caught my first glimpse of that solemn pride.

What a beautiful expression of a fundamental truth. So many will not know what you mean. In an era where feminine values now dominate it is not an average woman who will recognize what is lost as men are increasingly taught by their single or domineering mothers, or the school systems that promote and support this understanding, to affirm feminine values as their own. And yet our experience, and even our best art and drama still knows it too. Well, shared experience like Ms. Loftis communicates gives me hope that the common sense and experience of our wiser heads isn't lost. So beautiful.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"So many will not know what you mean." I wouldn't have made the connection even a few weeks earlier. I had that romantic naiveté so common these days that True Love makes it all easy. True love wouldn't cost me anything, right? Well, I'd finally figured out that true love did have a cost. This was my first knowledge of how high that cost might be.

And I know it is probably habit or PC spellcheck replacement, but it's Mrs. Loftis, or just Leslie. I'm not a fan of the modern abbreviation. L
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you. That word, like its counterpart, "lady", gets thrown around carelessly these days.

It's good to have the distinction made.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
For Marc below too, your comments remind me of a favorite quote: "One is born female, but being a woman is a personal accomplishment."
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Same thing goes for the other gender, too. It is well to marry a woman, not just a female. Being principled counts for everyone, regardless of gender.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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