Memoirs of a Minyan: Brokedown Palace
The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.
I found my way to my home on 57th Street as lines formed at convenience stores. People were hoarding bottled water, canned food, flashlights and other necessities. I had none of that and I didn't care.
I just wanted to find my family, my friends, myself. I needed to understand what happened and establish a framework of relativity, a place where I could begin to assess and digest my experience.
Thirty minutes later, my mother crashed through my front door and held me tighter than I've ever been held. The images on TV portrayed downtown Manhattan as a cloud of smoke; a disaster area with body parts strewn like yesterday's laundry on the bedroom floor.
Friends began to gather at my apartment; five at first, then ten, then twenty. It was the other side of disaster, a dose of humanity in a sea of horror, a refuge in a maze of confusion.
I found myself at my living room desk, looking for a semblance of normalcy and a familiar setting.
Instinctively, I wrote this column, which was published on TheStreet.com.
The Day the World Changed
By Todd Harrison
09/11/2001 08:33 PM EDT
Numbness. Shock. Anger. Sadness.
As I sit here with family and friends, awaiting calls that may never come, I am drawn to my keyboard and I'm not quite sure why.
Perhaps it's an attempt to somehow release the tremendous sadness that's locked inside me. Maybe I have hopes that sharing my grief will stop these images ... stop the shaking.
It's ten hours after the fact, and I still feel the "boom" that shook my trading room.
I can still see the bodies falling from the first struck tower, one after another, as we gathered by the window in shock and confusion.
I can still hear the screams in my office "Oh my God! Oh my God!, Oh my God!" as the second plane hit ... and the image of that fireball rolling toward us will forever be etched in my mind.
I often write that "this too shall pass," but I will never be the same. Maybe that's a selfish thought, as tens of thousands of people won't have the opportunity to put this behind them.
Each time my phone rings and I hear the voice of a friend who I feared was lost, I break into tears.
Every time I get a call from someone who "just wanted to make sure" I'm still here, I'm reminded of how lucky I am to share relationships, memories and a past.
I know many of you read my column to make money, but do yourself a favor and surround yourself with loved ones this evening.
Some of the wealthiest people I know don't have two dimes to rub together, and a few of them will never see their children, parents or friends again.
More than anything else, I wish I'd kept my date to share a drink with my good friend at Cantor Fitz.
I was tired, opting to grab a good nights sleep rather than down a couple of apple martinis with my sage friend.
I'm sitting by my phone, brother, waiting for your call.
Drinks are on me.
Picking up the Pieces
People who shared a similar experience dealt with their grief differently. Some left the business entirely, opting to enjoy a life where bells didn't bookend their days. Some married and others divorced as the specter of death shifted their path in life. Folks fell into drug and alcohol addictions with hopes that self-medication would dull their pain.
We each did what we could; we all did what we had to.
I was wrought with numb fortitude and relied on instincts to make it from hour to hour and day to day. CNN asked me to appear on television that weekend. I didn't want to be in the public eye but as I digested the significance of what happened, I decided my message needed to be heard.
Stay calm, don't make emotional financial decisions and remain patient. The downdraft in equities when the market reopened would ultimately provide a better entry level than exit point.
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