Stories of friendship and retirement, traveling the world, family, and the holidays fill the spaces between us. Alyson is behind the bar. And Andrew and Joe (friends from long ago) and I are on the other side. Tales of where we have been and where we have lived, what we do and who we are drift in and out. And linger.
It has been more than ten years since she graduated. First from college with a degree in art history. And then from graduate school where she studied museum theory. All her mom wanted for Christmas was that she paid off her loans. Today, her mom’s Christmas wish came true. After ten years, Alyson made her last and final payment.
Ever since she can remember, the hole in the wall that was once a laundry shoot is where Santa would always leave his last and final gift for her and her brother. Her brother, a psychotherapist, also has something to celebrate— a birthday and a brand new private practice.
Alyson, easy-going, kind and welcoming, has an extra sparkle in her eye as she tells us about her student loans, brother’s success, and gifts for each of them. For him a trip to Mexico where they will play in the sun and explore like they did when they were young.
And for her mom. A printout of her student loans paid in full. Carefully placed in that walled-off laundry shoot that was once just for Santa. A last gift. Of gratitude and love. Of hopes and dreams. Of sacrifice and time gone by. Of what was. And what is now possible.