Life, Death, and Student Loans

The title of this post sounds good in the order I put it, but I’m going to reverse that order as I write this. Since I graduated in 2008, my student loans have been a huge burden. Despite having paid off $10k, I’ve had to defer the loans and they have grown from around $35k to close to $50k. Since coming to the USA in 2013 the burdens of rent, auto insurance, auto repairs, health insurance, groceries, utilities, and every other bill that you are forced to pay when you try to have a life here have forced me to defer my loans again and again. I’ve built a couple of profitable businesses in this little town that have enabled us to live here – and my hope was that I would be able to sell them and pay off my loans – but the sad truth seems to be that people who live here don’t have the money or the ability to buy or more importantly to take over these businesses – it’s not that they are unable to do the work, it’s that they are (by and large) on social security or disability or retirement pensions that will penalize them if they earn money. It’s one of the reasons it is so hard to find good help here – people don’t want to screw up their current entitlements. So, as much as I hate to say it – it looks like my student loans will continue to grow and I will continue to defer them – indefinitely unless something changes.

And that brings me to death. I’m not sure, but I think debt remains even after you die. If I were to die, my family would inherit my debt – which is complete bullshit. I have a life insurance policy that would cover everything – but I certainly hope that in the event of my death they will take the money and give the middle finger to the debt collectors – it is not their debt and if I die, the debt dies with me – at least that’s how I think it should be. The debt owners should have a life insurance policy on me if they want to collect when and if I die. But, I don’t intend to die anytime soon. However, living in this town of retirement and disability and working as I do with liquidating the estates of the dead or soon to be dead – I am more acutely aware of my own mortality than I’ve ever been – and I’ve always been acutely aware of it. All of this American bullshit we worry about doesn’t matter – the chase after money, the chase after paying bills, the insurance, the stockmarket, the tech gadgets, blah blah blah. We are going to die someday and that is all there is to it. That awareness is what has led me to live the life that I’ve led – we have today but yesterday is gone and tomorrow never has a guarantee. We must live.

And that brings me to life. I want to enjoy the life I live and I want to give my daughter every opportunity to enjoy the life she lives. I want my wife to enjoy the life she lives. These past four years, we have been working towards several goals 1) American citizenship for my wife (which we have achieved) 2) Paying off my student loans (which I discussed above but am ready to give up on) and 3) Building careers and business which will support us and allow us to live the rest of our lives the way we want to live – this is a tricky one because my wife’s family still lives in North Africa – so the life we want needs to include a way to see them at least periodically. The life we want to live must also include warm ocean and sunny beaches – which is something the Oregon Coast simply does not offer. There are people in the USA who I love and care about, but if I do not see them for years at a time, I can deal with that. The same is not true for my wife and her family in Europe and North Africa – this has been a huge burden for her. And that brings me to it – we are ready to live. Because we are ready to live, we are ready to move along to a very different life in a very different place. We are putting it all together now as Sophia finishes kindergarten and Hanane finishes up teaching for the school year. Stay tuned for much much more…