Quarter-life Crisis Time

Several of my columns have seen print since I last drew your attention to WSN (and the fact that I’ll never be allowed at a packed ‘n druggy social function in Brooklyn again), but last week’s actually seemed to make people pretty happy. I like that!

And I like you. So in keeping with my last update – and to keep the column updates here relevant – here’s the uncut version, which contains approximately 85 more words, which make the column marginally better or worse. Of course, you can always go to the paper’s website and read the edited version.

Ain’t no cure for the junior year blues

The last day of spring break, I woke up with a start, probably in the early, haziest hours of the morning, the realization hitting me suddenly that – holy moley – I’m almost three quarters of the way done with college. I’m old, man. I can drink all legally and stuff, the search for summer internships will soon turn into a desperate rush for gainful employment, and Bud forties no longer have that bit of precious mystique that so vibrantly characterized their acquisition two years ago.

Now as ubiquitous as the “what is your major going to be?” question once was, the “are you thinking about grad school?” bombshell rears its ugly head.  “Until this very second, no, I wasn’t,” I might respond, all the while thinking something along the lines of “OHGODOHGODOHGOD” as that trembling little mass in my stomach begins its gradual, festering journey towards ulcerdom.

We could probably call this a “quarter-life crisis,” if I see myself living to 84. The CIA World Factbook tells me that, as a man in the United States, 75 is probably a more realistic estimate. Drink that in, boys, like a noxious scotch from Hades. By the time we graduate, we’ll all have at least one big toe in the grave, swirling around that cold, cold dirt.

That kind of mega blows. Before long, we’ll be those creepy older people on Facebook. We’ll be the hairy drunk wallflowers at Rubulad, the unkempt homeless that accost Hayden residents (“smoke smoke? For old time’s sake?”), and so forth.

I mean, yes, we should remember – we should ALWAYS remember – that babies die sometimes, that children get hit by buses, that having at least a solid 50 years left, if we low-ball it, isn’t really the bleakest thing in the world, thinking about it optimistically. (“I mean, jeez, AFRICA,” you might assure yourself on dark, lonely nights.) We can’t exactly stop that old wheel of time, the descent of our flesh into jowls, but we can at least revel in the years we have left.

Still, I miss that first year at NYU. Those were some good, exciting times. Everyone stumbling everywhere together, dorm room doors always propped open to encourage desperate socialization.  Then NYU shuffles you off to those “apartment style” res halls. People close themselves into their suites like they’re granite-counter-topped caskets. The braying of drunken peers on Friday nights turns into an annoyance rather than a rally cry. Everyone suddenly has better, important things to do.

Sure, we all still go out, stay in faint touch through texts, but it’s different. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that uneasy moment walking past an old acquaintance when neither you nor them raise a hand in greeting. Doesn’t that just suck? Why do we do that?

I guess it just has to do with getting older, growing apart, becoming more confident with ourselves. (We probably really, really hated it when that jackass came around, anyway. Now we’re letting them know!) It’s probably not useful to get caught up in nostalgia, anyway. Things probably totally sucked freshman year, too. I distinctly remember a moth infestation in my Hayden bathroom. And the mice.

This whole “21-year-old NYU student missing the good ol’ times in his booze-stained dorm” thing? It’s probably the same situation when 90-year-old Russian women claim to miss Stalin. Hayden Hall is pretty obviously the new Gulag.

But it’s hard to get to this point and not wonder how it all just flew by. That, I suppose, should just be a lesson to make the last year count, to become a warmer person again, to not let cynicism override the experience.

To be completely honest, though? Not entirely looking forward to that gainful employment thing.

Oh how that cold shadow looms.

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One Response to “Quarter-life Crisis Time”

  1. Charles Connery Says:

    JOWLS

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