According to the first online dictionary I could find, debt (n) is something that is owed or that one is bound to pay or perform for another: a debt of $50.
My current debt stands at about $14,000, give or take. I will be years paying it off, $200 a month every month, to College Foundation Inc. If I’m really lucky, by the time I take on another massive loan to replace my car most of my student loans will be paid off—but I doubt it. In the true American way, my debt will keep piling and piling; the student loans and the car payments will linger when I begin to think about home ownership. And forget that far distant point in time when I have to start saving up for my own offspring’s college education (I think these days that kind of planning begins when the kid is in the womb); the student loans and car loans and home owner loans will all still be there, prowling. The accumulated debt, both actual and hypothetical, is overwhelming.
I will choose to think about debt in a different kind of way. Debt is:
-Creative writing classes out on the quad, flicking bugs off my legs and glaring at nearby smokers as we discussed the literary merits of my classmates’ short stories. The way my butt went numb after about half an hour, but how it didn’t matter because we were outside, being literary, talking about writing. Glorious.
–Being part of the final class New York Times bestseller Sarah Dessen taught at UNC, playing a raucous game of kickball right in the middle of the quad, knowing that everyone walking by was consumed with bitter jealousy at our good fortune.
-The stomach-knotting, finger-chewing, cold-sweat kind of anxiety I felt every time I submitted a piece for critique. The way my pulse ricocheted when the moment of critique finally arrived and then settled incrementally as I realized I wasn’t about to be laughed out of the room.
-The time I spent angsting about the odds of getting accepted into Intermediate fiction, and then Advanced fiction, and then how many people might be accepted into the Senior Honors Thesis class, who were the deadlocks and who might be on the border, and if I did get accepted into the class, what then?
-My complete conviction at the beginning of every creative writing class that I had no ideas, nothing to write about, nothing worth saying that anyone in their right mind would care to read, and then the easy way the ideas flowed when I took a moment to let them.
-The reading that the students of the Honors Fiction class gave at the end of the year in front of all our assembled friends and professors and family. The brutal timing of that reading taking place just a few weeks after surgery left my face partially (and temporarily) paralyzed. The hours I spent reading my selection alone in my bedroom, making sure I knew every phrase and nuance, so that even with the paralysis and a separate but equally crippling fear of public speaking, I might not make a fool of myself. The way my legs shook under the podium and my voice quavered as I began reading in front of so many people, and how the hours of practice eventually took over and swept me through to the end.
-The slow realization, built over four years, that maybe this thing that I love to do is something that I’m kind of, sort of, possibly, might be good at.
Another definition: Debt (n), the condition of being under such an obligation.
This week’s synchroblog topic was debt. You can read the others here: