Like pretty much everyone, I have taken some hard knocks in my financial life and on Friday I had to make the dire decision to liquidate all of my equities (about half my portfolio). Of course the whole portfolio is down by about 50% since last September, so in monetary terms, this is a substantial hit, given that is the money my children and I live on.
Having made this decision however, a weird calm came over me. Of course I was relieved that it at least felt as though I had staunched the bleeding, but it was more than that.
I have always had an odd relationship with this money, the money I received as a result of Arron's death. I had to sign away my right to sue airlines, and building management companies and whomever else could be blamed for the grand mal seizure that was 9/11. When I signed that final document, I felt as though I had sold my soul to the devil. When the checks arrived by Fedex several months later, they made me cry, because I felt as though the money was some kind of hideous replacement for Arron. Those checks felt like something evil. I deposited the checks quickly and soon had invested the money which we have lived off ever since.
I expected to be way more freaked out about losing so much of it. But like I said, I felt calm. The money carried an abstract quality, nothing more than a bunch of numbers on a page that grew or shrank with each monthly statement. Now it feels like I kind have the same amount as I used to have when compared to what everyone else has. We have all lost money, so the way I figure it, the value of the money has remained the same in relative terms. $100 dollars in September is worth $50 now. But I am probably just naive.
There was also this feeling of contentment that came over me when I thought of selling the house, and perhaps even renting a cute little apartment, divested of stuff that I had to sell off on Craig's list. I imagined this simple life, where I had to make a lot of potatoes and lentil soup and where the kids and I would sit around and play Mexican Train on a weeknight. The thought actually made me happy. Ah, the idealism!
But that's when I kind of stopped being scared and relaxed about the whole money deal. It is, after all, just money.