It was a great surprise to me, after college graduation, that I was expected to pay back my loan. All the time. Every month. It was not enough to pay it in February and then spend three months congratulating myself. My friends were paying their loans, I realized. Even the ones that I suspected were more irresponsible than me.

This payment had gotten easier. Over the years, the obligation has been like a skin tag in a high-traffic part of my body. Mostly it went unnoticed, but every once in awhile I would nick it and start fantasizing about home surgery. Wielding a box cutter and screaming: "SOMEBODY GET THIS LOAN OFF OF ME."

But it's gone now. The last $14 was lobbed off my life, and I received a congratulatory email from the loan company that seemed light in exclamation points.  

Huzzah! I'm rich!

Christa Lawler is the arts amp; entertainment reporter for the News Tribune. She occasionally writes a column about pop culture -- a broad topic that can include furniture, fitness trackers and sci-fi. Follow her on Twitter @dntane.