The Quarter Life Crisis

Giavanna Zannino

Everybody does the same thing after a long day of classes. They rise from the chair that has been holding them hostage through the longest, slowest, two hour lecture they have ever been handed on the anatomy of a blood vessel. They pack up their notebook filled with concepts they can recognize and recite but will never fully understand.
A less plaguing and existential crisis inducing question arose as I approached the only viable exits from the fifth floor—the elevator or the stairs? I always pick the stairs; I can' t be bothered with waiting for freedom.
It's cold when the door spits me out, I don't know what to do and want to turn around and seek refuge within the womb of Salem State University’s Meier Hall. I don't know who I am or what the grade on the exam we took in Tuesday’s class will be.
What do I do with myself when it seems I have no motivation besides the pressure of fully taking advantage of the 20K in student loans I have solely taken out. I don't want to be an Adult anymore.
The reopening of North Dining Hall is the saving grace of everybody who takes classes on North Campus, so pretty much every registered student of the 2022-2023 school year. If Meier Hall is the belly button, North Dining Hall is the placenta, and I embrace the treacherous mission that is walking one-hundred feet between the two after every 3:05 class session.
The food is good most of the time; on this day in particular, some mean pork chops were being dished out. Immediately, I put the meat on my plate, followed by some stale rice pilaf, and I recently discovered that they had Caesar salad. Everything was great until I noticed that I forgot a knife. I had to peel myself off the chair that’s been whispering sweet nothings to me this whole time. I instilled a mutual trust with my surroundings that someone wouldn't spit in my food while I walked another ten feet back to the utensil station. And that's when I heard something more disturbing than my realization that I gotta cut a pork chop with a butter knife.
“Honey, it's okay, you'll have better luck next time,” says a balding, middle-aged man with pleading and gentle eyes. He is met with silence. Silence from a person I haven't seen around these parts before. “Don't let it ruin this whole semester, this place is amazing.”
This place—at the heart of Salem’s Historic District. A place which, considering its historical significance, now valued the notion of being unique, had fallen victim to this petty teenager’s wrath.
So maybe they failed a test? It says something that their dad is trying to cheer them up and they’re no doubt breaking their father’s heart with this silent resistance. This is why men become washed.
“Do you want a waffle?” No response. He does this dad thing then where he goes, “Fine, I guess I’ll just get one for myself and I’m not sharing.” I smirked a little. I wish my dad was here right now, wish that he bothered to listen to me talk about my life, wish that he acknowledged my hard work, wish that my father tried to know my university, my new home.
“The architecture and technology is what gets me, this food is way better than what I ever ate at college.” And then he gives up, “I guess I'll get going, let me go put this dish away.” He walked with confidence even though he had just been stabbed over and over again in his bald
heart. He did put that dish away, I followed him with every moment as he confidently conquered the hidden path of arrows pointing to the dish return.
I've said the most cruel things and caused lasting damage to my parents’ trust with me. There's something about the heat of the moment, where I physically can't shut my mouth, where my anger issues take over quick enough that I can't brace for impact. And still, I’m inclined to imagine that silence is worse than any “I hate you.” Because silence holds power, silence is intentional.
And still, I think my dad would have thrown that plate, and I would've flinched as I did when that cold hit my face fifteen minutes ago.
Giavanna Zannino is 19 years old and enjoys reading fiction and creative writing about her own life/struggles. She is a full-time nursing student and library aide currently living in Salem, MA.

"Lecture Hall" by uniinnsbruck is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Author
Read More
A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!