And made myself a celebration cake to beat all prior celebration cakes. :) A glittering rainbow, some shiny coins, a goodbye scroll, a few smiley faces, a bluebird of happiness? OHHH YEAAAH, it's got it all. :)
I first took out this student loan in the summer of 2000, a month or so before starting grad school at New York University. That is so many lifetimes ago now, it seems, so all the better to have all the payments for it finally completed.
Even with jobs, grants, and scholarships, the student loans were also always necessary for me throughout college and grad school, but the debt is quite a burden to carry, and as with everyone after a certain age, if I knew then what I know now and could redo it all, who's to say. . . .And I still have an insane amount of student loan debt, but let us celebrate today what we can, right. Never again having to pen into my journal my new-and-improved Sallie Mae balance is an accomplishment.
I have been keeping diaries and journals since I was nine, and while looking through some of my old ones late this summer, I soon grew tired of seeing how many times I'd written "My Sallie Mae balance is now down to $[whatever-amount]" or "Another payment today. New balance: $[whatever-new-amount]." Blah blah blah, entry after entry, year after year. . . .When I was twenty-three. . .Thirty-three. . .Thirty-nine. . .Until I got sick of it late this summer and sat down with pen and paper to figure out how much I'd have to work to pay it off by the end of this year. THIS year, finally.
I calculated my wages, my usual number of hours/week and hours/month, what overtime would maybe be available throughout the fall, and how much extra I'd need to do in order to make the final payment on this loan by New Year's Eve. I came up with the number of extra hours I guessed I'd need to work--and I worked them. And worked them, and worked them. . .days and nights, going back to work after just a few hours of sleep from the shift before, giving up days off to get a few more hours. . .the past three months. . . .And I ended up working only one hour more than I'd estimated that I'd need to and actually paying it off two weeks early, so all my estimates were spot-on.
I gave up what was to be my second visit to Boston, in October, for this. I had already booked the flight and gotten the days off work but decided to be a grown up and do this instead. 'The right thing to do, but I so wanted to be there in the fall. . . .It was to have been the weekend of David Ortiz's final game with the Red Sox and of an Oktoberfest-themed 5K race I'd intended to run. My designated "Boston days" found me back at work here instead. Life goes on, and I'll get back to Boston sometime, and now the loan is paid off. . . but the trip would have made for some sweet autumn memories.
I made the final payment last Friday morning, hours after returning from a week of "merry early Christmas" with my family and set out for the grocery store for cake-baking and cake-decorating supplies soon after. ♥ The cake was the classic Hershey Celebration Cake but with hot coffee and buttermilk replacing the hot water and milk per an Ina Garten recipe. Candy-tape made the rainbow, I dolled up a few yellow gumballs for the smiley faces, the coins were easy to find with Hanukkah candy this time of year, and I crafted the bluebird and scroll out of homemade marshmallow fondant. It is not the most prettily-frosted cake, but I was too tickled by the cause for celebration to care. :)
And I called my dad--who had warned me in summer 2000 not to take out this loan in the first place, but I had just turned twenty-three so knew everything and didn't listen to him, of course--to tell him the good news. ♥
Stuffed was unimpressed and remained on his warm radiator-perch all afternoon.
I should have followed his lead, as it turns out, for I came down with the flu Friday evening and was sicker all weekend than I'd been since early 2012. But until then: happiness and cake! :)
Even if fatigue ultimately caught up with me, I reached my goal and have kissed this debt goodbye. And the fresh new journal I begin next month will be the first in almost seventeen years that won't mention it. And the flu has now mellowed into a cold, and there are still two slices of cake in the fridge. :)