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Getting There Episode 2 - Stranger in a Strange Land

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

Melting snow in March near Mt Gretna, PA

SoCal was exactly the last place in the US I ever wanted to move to. It's nothing personal, but I'm from Pennsylvania and we have rain there. I miss rain. And wouldn't you know it, the summer I leave home, PA gets a record-setting amount of rainfall.

I am an introvert through and through, and though I am very comfortable in conversations, I tend not to be the one starting them. The same goes for my attitude toward adventure and change - as much as I enjoy new experiences and adventures, I'm often unwilling to initiate them. And so in the months between when I made the decision to take classes in Pasadena CA, and when I actually packed up my car and left, there was a mental process I went through, trying to prepare for the changes ahead of time. I did my research, I read blogs, and looked at pictures to familiarize myself with the new world I would be living in. None of which worked, of course. When traveling, there tends to be one key thing in each new location that signals very clearly that you are no longer where you were before - that this is a new place entirely. On the first leg of my drive when I got to Tennessee, it was the mountains, the second leg was maybe the quietest city I've ever seen, Oklahoma City. The desert towns and trading posts in New Mexico on the third leg and the black basalt rocks in the Mojave on the last day of driving.

And in Los Angeles... it was the parrots.

I had no idea there were parrots here! A little ridiculous, I know, but the thing that really nailed home for me the idea that I had really arrived in LA wasn't the seeing signs for the fabled "5" (oh, I have heard stories), or crossing the Sierra Madres...

... it was the freaking parrots.

I'm not sure why, but walking out of my AirBnB on the first morning and see a pair of parrots perched on top of a telephone pole like it was the most normal thing in the world was the one thing that made me realize how far from home I really was.

It could be that the rest of the landmarks in my mind that made an impression were all part of the trip, just part of passing through. Once I was settled in though, the revelation on my first morning that there were parrots here was confirmation of what I had just done.

I had left the place where I was comfortable and secure. I had driven across the country to live a city which I was dead-set-against ever living in.

I was going back to school, which I swore I'd never do.

And I did it all to try to get into an industry in which I had zero experience.

What have I gotten myself into?!

In the spirit of the saying that "it's not the destination, but the journey that's important", I've titled this series "Getting There." While I appreciate this saying, the journey would not exist if not for the destination, therefore the title "Getting There" is a reference as much to the destination as it is to the journey. The "Getting There" series is a collection of brief, episodic articles describing my ongoing journey into the animation industry.

By Alex Esbenshade

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