I have to say, I’m not terribly saavy when it comes to finances. One of my first bosses once told me that you should hold on to stock as long as you can. Boy was that bad advice.
I’m thinking now about the crash of 2001. I remember D., how she’d accumulated thousands of shares of company stock. She was going to sell them off when she retired and go to her hometown in Georgia, create a foundation, build a school, give back. Then the stock went from $140-something a share to $17 a share. When it hit $13, she thought of selling. Then it hit $10 and her stockbroker called, panicked. He said it was going to drop to zero. She sold it every last bit of it, thousands and thousands of shares. The point at which she sold happened to be the lowest it reached before slowly climbing back up.
Sell high, buy low. That’s what they say. Some people, people like me, aren’t built for stock markets. We don’t have a good sense of where the high point is. Some people are built for other markets, slapping the skin of a melon to tell if its ripe, or knowing how to contrast colors, or being able to predict whether the baby in your belly is a boy or a girl. Odd that I should be the one in our family to be the money person. It’s not a role I relish.
I wonder what Dad thinks about the financial crisis. I wonder if it’s going to affect him much. I think we all lost money, although one could argue the money never really was ours to lose, just money on paper, back in 2001. That’s the thing about stocks and equity. It’s all paper money. Like those dollars you get in Monopoly, orange-yellow for the $20 bill, baby blue for $5, yellow for $1.
Honestly, I can still see and smell all of that game, remember which properties cost the most and which were good buys. Park Avenue and Broadway were on the side of the board you never wanted to land on. I always went for infrastructure—Reading Railroad and Water Works. Those seemed solid and cheap, I think it only cost $75 to buy most of them.
I’m trying to remember now, what little doodad did I pick for my Monopoly self? Was it the Scottish terrier? Or was there a big high heel shoe, a woman’s shoe? For some reason that rings a bell. I liked things that had denseness to them, none of those hollow ones. I would never had gone for the thimble or the top hat. I liked weight, something I could feel in my hand.
Where I go in times of financial crisis? Certainly not to my stockbroker. I won’t call him for a while, assuming he still has his job. I don’t want to know the damage, and I’m certainly not going to sell low like D. I’ll wait for the value to grow again, if it grows again. It did after 2001. Call me in ten years and once it grows, I’ll probably take it all out. Never do stocks again. They’re too light-weight, like the thimble in Monopoly, not enough meat on their bones. If I could invest in dirt, I would, and I suppose that’s what land and buildings are all about, although those don’t seem like a good risk at this point either.
When I’m in personal crisis, I go inward. I’m thinking now of each night when I go to bed, how I tuck my hands into the waistband of my pajama bottoms. I go to warmth, pull my arms in tight so they touch the rest of my body. Some day when I’m old I will be folded in and tiny, all of me caving in towards my heart. That’s the place I go to. To my heart, to where I can protect it.
If it’s a family crisis, I go to my parents. I go to my siblings, the place where I feel the most comfortable. The place I grew up. But if the crisis is my very own, I deal with it on my own. It’s just how I am.
-related to post WRITING TOPIC – WHERE DO YOU GO IN TIMES OF CRISIS?