Bathroom Reading Material

Los Angeles

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When I last wrote about my life I had just flown out to Los Angeles for a week to get the lay of the land and spend some time at Geni, the company I was interning with. I was trying to decide if I should move out and work there full time, and by the end of that week I knew that that I had to. I’ve now been living in Los Angeles six months, and this is the story of how I got here.

Recap

I started using Clojure when I was very young. I was 15-16 and I did not have a whole lot of experience with programming. My background prior to that was Haskell, where I had some some trivial projects and swallowed up the most fundamental concepts I needed to get going. I started doing more significant and less trivial projects in Clojure, and began to build a bit of a portfolio with things like lazybot and tryclojure.

By nothing more than chance alone, I met two people who both changed my life. They would become two of my very best friends as well as coworkers. They saw potential in me (frequently more than I saw in myself) and eventually got me an internship at Geni. They jump-started my career at 17 years old. These guys were Justin Balthrop and Lance Bradley.

Long story short, I interned at Geni for nearly two years. Along the way I met Alan Malloy (amalloy) and we quickly became friends. It came to pass that he too ended up employed at Geni!

The Lows

Towards the end of 2012, we all decided it was time that I came and worked for Geni full time and in person. This meant I had to leave everything I knew behind and move across the country to Los Angeles. I’m from a small town in Alabama. Los Angeles was exciting, but entirely unfathomable to me. Nonetheless, I made the decision to do it because it was the best possible thing I could do, and I don’t regret it one bit.

On February 3rd, 2013, the day after my 19th birthday, I stepped onto a plane with a laptop, a small carry on bag full of clothes, and my das keyboard. These are the only things I had in the world from then on out.

Here’s the thing, guys. Most of you were inevitably in school for much of your life growing up. You left every morning, came back every night, maybe got angry at your parents for not letting you hang out with friends more, I don’t know. Whether you did or not, I certainly didn’t. I was home schooled my entire life. I had friends and sleepovers and what not, but the vast majority of my life was spent with my family. My aunt and my mother raised me. They weren’t just my parents, they were my best friends. I care more for them than I do for anything else on this planet. Leaving them behind was the hardest thing I ever had to do.

I didn’t sleep the night before I left. Not a wink. That morning when I stepped out of the car and my mother handed me my bag and I saw her and knew in my heart how long it was going to be before I saw her again, I completely lost my shit. I’ve never in my life tried to keep myself together so hard. I managed to choke back my tears after a couple escaped my grasp and I walked into the terminal. Have you ever seen your mother or father cry? Remember how that feels. I thought I would die before I got on the plane that day.

When I arrived in Los Angeles, Alan picked me up at the place in Hollywood where I was to stay for a couple of months prior to finding a more permanent place to live. He helped me run some errands and then took me out to dinner. I enjoyed it, and his company, but as soon as I walked through my door when I got home that night, I collapsed into tears. This would become a nightly routine for the next two weeks. Every night after work. How I even held it in all day eludes me looking back. I like to think that I’m a strong person and I can handle things and adapt, but that has to be the lowest point I’ve ever hit in my life. Balancing the excitement and thrills of a new city and a new life against the sorrow produced by giving up my old life. It was utterly overwhelming.

Fortunately, like things tend to do, this passed with time. I eventually stopped crying at night. I faced the fact that this was reality and I began to enjoy my new life. I made a point of remembering that my plans are to bring my mother and my aunt out here, because they also deserve a new life. I need to make enough money to help support them first, and there are very big obstacles outside the scope of this blog post that are keeping me from moving them out here in the near future, but it’ll happen eventually. Until then, life keeps chugging along, and there is far too much greatness in my new home and my new surroundings to not take full advantage of it in the meantime.

The Highs

As of August 3rd, I’ve lived in Los Angeles for six months. These days I live in a nice apartment in West Los Angeles. Geni’s office is on the famous third street promenade in Santa Monica, just a couple of blocks from the beach. Things have been going well at work. I’ve learned tons of new things and have even done a bit of Ruby. I get to use Clojure! I have amazing coworkers who include two of the smartest people I know on this planet, Justin and Alan, and I am utterly privileged to work with them. I can’t express that enough. I’m very lucky to call these guys my friends.

Lance left Geni and started working at Scopely shortly after I moved out here, but he is still in the LA area and we hang out pretty frequently. He actually took me to my first concert several months ago. It was KMFDM, a band I was unfamiliar with, and I was in a mosh pit for most of the night. Very high on the top of my shit-I’ll-probably-never-do list.

Since I’ve been here I have seen Imagine Dragons in concert twice (one of which was filmed for the August 11th, 2013 season finale of Live From the Artists Den on PBS), saw an old homeless lady take a piss on the sidewalk standing up and looking me in the eye whilst doing it, and visited Universal Studios twice. I’ve got tickets to see the first band I ever called my favorite, Panic! at the Disco, later this month.

My apartment is mostly furnished at this point. People at work have been giving me things since I got here, including a couch, a great desk, and some chairs. I slept on a borrowed air mattress for months until it broke (apparently airbeds can both not have a hole and be broken at the same time, pretty wild), at which point I bought a real bed. Once I moved the couch in, I realized that my apartment actually looked like someone lived in it. That took me by surprise. I’ve got a car now. Things are real. This is me. I live in Los Angeles. This is life.

I’ve made some mistakes since getting here. I’ve also done some things right. Moving out here was not a mistake. I like my new life. Don’t get me wrong, I get melancholic from time to time, but less and less often as time goes by. Things aren’t perfect. There are things missing from the picture, but that’s life. Life is about balancing reality with happiness and making sure you have enough of the latter, and I’m happy. I see myself with a future, and I like that.

I don’t know what the future has in store for me. Most people don’t. I think Los Angeles and my current choices are good for me, and I’m excited to see what happens in the next six months and beyond. I’m Raynes, and that’s my life.

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