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.