Is This All There Is?

Imagine this, but with no Volkswagen.

When people tell me that they’re living vicariously through me, I always wonder if they know the full scope of the lame things that they’re vicariously doing. I hope nobody thinks that I’m spending every spare minute in a hot tub full of cocaine – more often than not, if you say you’re living vicariously through me you’re just vicariously eating plain white rice and soy sauce for dinner because I’m too lazy to walk two blocks to Ralphs to buy anything else.

Next month I will have been working at my ad agency for a year, which is the longest I’ve ever held a job. For a year I’ve been waking up early, asking coworkers about their children, discreetly poking my head into the break room to see if anybody brought doughnuts, feeling anxious whenever I take ten extra minutes of lunch, and competing for the parking spot closest to my office. I adult so hard it hurts sometimes.

I work from 8:30 AM until 6:30 PM, and with rush hour traffic I usually get home around 7:00. To get eight hours of sleep before the next day, I need to go to bed at 11:30, which leaves me four and a half hours of unsupervised personal time every day. I live around the corner from two awesome bars, and I’m one stop on the subway away from the sticky freakshow that is Hollywood, but I usually spend my evenings holed up in my room surfing the Internet.

Keep in mind, I take my laptop to work with me, and a big part of my writing process is surfing the Internet while I let ideas form. So basically, the only difference between my home and my office is that one of them doesn't let me take my pants off.

When I wake up for work every morning I look back at the prior evening’s activities and feel kind of shitty. Come on, Truman! I’ll think to myself as I dutifully brush my teeth. All you did last night was read the Wikipedia article about Hitler’s 50th birthday party and watch King Of The Hill. That’s lame even by your standards. Tonight after work you should go do something!

And then ten hours later I’m walking out of the office and thinking, Man, I can’t wait to get home and get cracking on that Wikipedia article about maritime disasters! Some part of my subconscious will remind me of the promise I’d made that morning, and my response is always a very whiny, But I’m tiiiiiired!

I feel sort of irresponsible being tired from doing my job. I mean, my job is to sit in an office and do the only thing in the world I’m good at – write things. As jobs go, that’s pretty cushy – I mean, some people have to drive buses or take care of the mentally ill or be President of Mexico, all jobs that I’m sure are way harder than mine. If a bunch of English dudes can mine coal all day and then promptly go be in one of the world’s greatest brass bands, you’d think I’d be able to write all day and then have the energy to go get drunk in Hollywood.

I like to pretend that I’m saving all my outgoing adventurous activities for the weekend, even though I know it’s bullshit. As early as Wednesday I’ll start eagerly anticipating the coming weekend the way I used to anticipate Christmas as a kid, fantasizing about doing wild and weird things with my friends all over town. But every weekend the same thing happens: I spend half the weekend sleeping, half of it hanging out with my friends at some low key parties or bars in my neighborhood, and the rest of it kicking myself for not doing laundry when I had the chance.

I’ve got a great job, my finances are in awesome shape, I’ve made lots of new friends and professional connections, and above all I’m actually really happy as much as 85% of the time. I just kind of thought life was going to be a little more than this.

Days and weeks have started flying by and running together to the point that I’m having trouble telling my memories apart. And I’m not going to be a curmudgeonly 24-year-old forever. I’m scared that one day I’m going to blink and I’ll be a curmudgeonly 44-year-old who loves Wikipedia, Netflix, and being a professional homebody.

Time’ by Pink Floyd is one of the scariest songs there is – the gist of the lyrics are that if you don’t chase your dreams, they’ll get away from you and then you’re up shit creek with a wasted life, crushing regret, and, presumably, awful teeth (they were writing for an English audience, after all.)

Listening to ‘Time’ on a regular basis was what got me to Los Angeles, and it’s what keeps me writing most nights, even when I’ve been writing all day. I’m not worried about letting my dreams get away from me – even though I could probably stand to spend a little more time writing and a little less time thinking about what a cute couple Emma Stone and I would make – but I am worried about letting youthful shenanigans get away from me.

What I’ve discovered about being in my early 20s is that I’ve still got a lot of the leeway I had in my late teens – older coworkers laugh knowingly when I come to work with a hangover, and I’m constantly reminded that I’m still young enough to be making some mistakes.

I just hope that I’m not making the mistake of not making enough mistakes, you know?

Truman Capps has learned more from idle Wikipedia surfing than he did in four years of college.