Last night I had to pay my student loan bill, a monthly misfortune that always makes me reflective. Despite the sorry reality that I owe money to schools I attended 12-15 years ago, I actually enjoy the process of bill paying. I like writing the check out, filling out the little coupon ticket that matches the month and sending it on its way. It must be a control thing. I like following protocol, staving off delinquency, chiseling away at a giant.
…Until I really think about it, for real. When I signed that Promissory Note back in 2000, I must’ve glossed over the line Final Payment June 2025 with a semi-cocky shudder. Yeah right, like I’m gonna be paying this until 2025. I’ll be 44 years old in 2025! No way, that bad boy’ll be paid off long before then…
Well here it is 10 years shy of 2025 and I’ve just started up with payments again after a 5-year hiatus while Violet was being born/ Violet-being-center-of-the-universe-days-which-is-still- going-on-and-will-be-into-perpetuity. Back in rosy 2000, 2025 could have been apocalyptic times for all I knew. We’ll be 20 car rows wide, stopped dead along Interstate 95 trying to drive toward higher ground with a big comet and little comet pummeling at lighting speeds toward the earth… (!!!!)
(The movie Deep Impact always did seem so feasible.)
No, but I did think: I’ll be a doctor, making big bucks, sitting on my patio drinking champagne coolies…
I didn’t become a doctor. I decided to have a Violet instead. The better choice of the two, hands down. She does like to doctor me though. Yesterday when she got home from camp, I let her poke and prod and scrape me for a good hour, while I lied on her floor with a doll blanket over my head and a barrette on my ear. She said I had big problems and needed surgery immediately.
Sounds about right.
While Violet dug some legos into my back, I thought about my friend Marko who moved back home with his parents so he could pay off his student loans: $50,000 in 4 years.
“You didn’t mind living with your parents?” I asked.
“Oh I did,” he said. “I just couldn’t relax with that hanging over me.”
“And you could relax at your parents’?” I pressed further.
“I watched a lot of zombie slasher movies.”
Then there’s my friend Jessica who graduated from law school in 2008 with a quarter of a million dollars in student loan debt and no job. She ended up working as paralegal for 18 months because the NYC/Fairfield CT economy was so saturated with attorneys.
What they should tell you during that Planning For Your Future seminar when you sign the blessed Promissory Note is that your spouse will end up in shackles too. Decisions about where you live, what you live in, what you drive (whether you even get to have something to drive), children (if any)… all deep impacted.
Jonathan was kind enough to spot me the money last night. He’s cognizant of the fact that my latest venture, this blog, doesn’t exactly pay well. So off he went, into the room he affectionately refers to as his “hovel”—the small, windowless office closet where he pays the bills—and transferred some money for me.
I asked my friend Josh, a cop, why he took so many detail assignments. He works the formidable night shift and almost every time I talk to him he’s either working a double, or working a detail, or both. He survives on the least amount of sleep than anyone I know. “Gotta pay Erin’s and my student loans,” he said.
My surgery complete, I peel myself off the floor, lift Violetcakes into my arms and ask, “Can the Doctor give any snuggles now?”
“Only 2 snuggles, that’s it. I need to talk to Daddy in his hovel.”
Sand & soil,