Back when my cousin and I ran this little publishing company in Oakland, we befriended a dude named Fielden Nelson. I had read a short thing he’d written on a popular website I don’t want to link to, and so I sent him an email and we started talking. Fielden was a cool guy. This was over 10 years ago now, and when he wrote this, he was about my age now. I don’t think he’d mind if I reposted it in its entirety:
You will move to L.A. from somewhere in the Midwest without previously obtained shelter or employment. You will be cautiously optimistic. You will have a solid short term plan. All of your childhood will be in your trunk.
You will have been moderately successful. You will stay with more successful friends. Because it is California, the land to where the more successful have already moved. You will stay with good friends. You will stay with friends of good friends. You will stay with colleagues of friends of good friends.
You will stay in extra rooms, assigned to non-extra functions. You will stay in living rooms, assigned to living functions. You will sleep on pull-out couches. You will consume limited space. You will overstay your welcome. You will walk in on intimacies. You will see nipples. You will hear what other people sound like. In the bathroom. In the bedroom. When they think they are alone or cushioned by walls.
You will sleep in hotels. You will sleep in motels. You will sleep in your car. You will sleep in a tent. You will have a graduate degree. You will turn 37.
You will look for jobs. You will send out résumés. You will do interviews for things like Bakery Counter Night Person, Part-time Intern for the Assistant Manager, and Personal Assistant to the Hostess/Host. You will not get jobs. You were bored working when you were a teenager.
You will walk other people’s dogs. You will watch other people’s homes. You will sit in other people’s chairs and use other people’s pillows. You will be surrounded by other people’s pictures, other people’s food, and their odd intimate tastes. In art. Lighting. Soap. You will be paid to do this. This will come to not feel strange.
You will walk. You will turn down random streets. You will consider collecting random things. You will consider building random things that will serve random purposes. You will consider pirates and their place in the modern world. You will lose any fear of lost.
Your cousin/friend of a friend/former classmate will get a major role. Write/direct/manage/create/invent a Hollywood Internet Silicone Valley thing. They will instant message all available social satellites: Never stop chasing your dreams. Hard work will pay off in the end. You have to fall before you phoenix. They will be 23.
You will focus too hard on the minute details of doing everyday things. You will grow to not trust spelling, grade school historical facts, the pronunciation of words, or the nerve responses returned from your ﬁngertips.
You will at some point overhear these random phrases: fusion bicycle; going from consulting straight to banking is rare; trafﬁc-driven website; my producer would kill me if he knew I was telling you this but. You will want to punch the people saying these things. As hard as possible. In the stomach. Until you realize they spend two hours every day with their personal stuntman/ex-marine/part-time porn star/niche martial-arts trainer who teaches them to ﬂip off walls and obliterate boulders of low self-esteem. And to do ten reps after you’re dead. Step aside. The war is over.
Your relatives will die. Your mother will break down like you’ve never seen her break down before. Over the phone. You will not be able to attend funerals.
You will borrow money from people you’ve already borrowed money from. You will move into a broken apartment. It will cost more than your ﬁrst car.
You will fall out of love. You will fall in love. You will fall out of love.
You will run out of money. You will be glad it’s always warm. You will stare at the sea. You will stare at the sun. You will stare at the birds breaking up blue. You will stare at the wind leant palms.
I remember feeling like I related to these sentiments at the time, but I was mistaken. Maybe in a quote-unquote spiritual sense it resonated with me, or at least I wished they did, though the reality is that I had not yet truly experienced many of the quiet sadnesses and feelings of disillusionment that he talks about.
What I’m saying now is that, YEAH, having just reread this many years later, I have absolutely bore witness to and lived these things firsthand. I’m always saying that in some ways, bad-interesting experiences are almost better than good experiences, and I got plenty of the former, for whatever that’s worth, probably not much . . .
Though yeah: this little essay is good. It is airtight and wastes no words. It’s also 100% true.
(Fielden? You still out there, brother . . . ?)