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Bon Journal

The road home

A week ago today, my new colleague and I kept our 9 am appointment. So did the gentlemen we were supposed to meet. They had been in their offices. Only there was no receptionist to let us in. Today we finally met, as if there had never been a Black Tuesday.

It almost feels inappropriate to discuss business after the events of last week. Everyone in my industry has been affected in some way. One contact called me from Houston to ask if I had heard anything. Another friend called me from Singapore just to hear my voice. The sharing of this so-called "complicated grief" brings even strangers closer together. The people who I correspond with by e-mail or the rare phone call are now human beings with emotions. And these emotions take time to heal.

On the island of Manhattan itself, an inexplicable tension exists. I feel it when I'm in the subway or on the sidewalks dwarfed by the skyscrapers. Under the clear blue skies, all of New York City is mourning.

The momentum of my consecutive meetings and the need to get to Newark Airport an hour early urged me on. From Penn Station New York, I took the New Jersey Transit to the first stop - Penn Station Newark. Four dollars put me on the bus direct to the airport.

The check-in process was longer than usual - not because of the extra security. The immediate layoff of thousands of airline staff is noticeable. There was only one agent to check in the premium economy passengers. It would have been faster to fly economy class in this instance. Having checked in my bags, I scanned the magazine section of the airport shop and bought everything I could find on last week's terrors.

The flight was not full. Except for the call for special donations for the New York disaster relief fund, you couldn't tell anything extraordinary happened the week before. I fell into a much-needed light sleep. In six hours, I might be able to shed the horrible memories of the attacks on America. But I doubt my attitude towards life would remain the same.

19 September 2001 Wednesday