Junior at Whitworth
Film and Visual Narrative Minor
She is spending her fall semester studying at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center (LAFSC) in Los Angeles, California. The LAFSC is a semester-long program for students interested in finding a career in the entertainment industry. The program consists of an internship with a film company, as well as classes for short film production, screenwriting, narrative storytelling, and faith development in film.
Last weekend I sat on the beach at Santa Monica, camera in hand – a typical film student look. The battery was almost dead, the result of taking nearly 300 photos and videos in the few hours we’d been there. It was a sign that it was time to sit and enjoy what I was seeing with my eyes, not my lens. I was there with three of my roommates, and two of them had adventured onward toward the pier for food while I stayed behind with Alex.
Alex practices flow, which is a form of dance and movement that involves object manipulation (a little like a circus performer, almost like juggling, but cooler), using hoops, poi balls, or a levitation wand. It’s one of those things that looks a million times easier than it is (I may or may not have smacked myself in the face trying).
We’ve just hit the one-month mark of our semester at a film program here in LA. Alongside 21 other students from Christian universities around the country, we’re spending four months taking film classes and completing internships with companies in the real-deal film world at the LAFSC (Los Angeles Film Studies Center). It’s been an amazing month, filled with crowded tourist locations, In-N-Out Burger, beaches, theaters, movie nights, and lots of banana bread (thanks Mom).
But we were warned back in our first week that culture shock might begin to set in after about one month – Los Angeles often feels like a foreign country. As Alex flowed on that beach in the fading sun, she asked me how I felt about LA. Maybe it was the golden hour light getting to me, but I decided to answer her honestly rather than dealing in pleasantries: I love California, despite its traffic and weird trees and exorbitant prices on anything that isn’t an avocado, but I am conflicted. Part of the reason a lot of us are in this program is to determine whether Los Angeles is the place we can see ourselves building lives and careers. If we want to be in the film industry, it’s the place to be, and this program is our door into the business we’re after. And yet, I told Alex, I’ve been struggling with how to reconcile wanting this kind of life and still believing that I will always call the Pacific Northwest my real home. Feeling that I have two lives is odd; is my Whitworth life on pause while I build a new one here, waiting until I get back? Or is this my home now?
I spent the first eighteen years of my life in the same small town, which meant that there was only ever one place I could truly call home. When I got to Whitworth, I built that same sense of home; the house on Stevens Street, the study tree by the library, the same red door to come walking through at the end of every day. And then I packed everything I owned into my little blue Honda and voyaged to a strange land, one where the stars you’ll see are on Hollywood Boulevard and not in the sky, where the ocean is a stone’s throw away. I’ve created the feeling that I am divided between homes, and no matter which one I am in, I will long for the part of me that I left in the other.
The problem, I think, lies in believing that you can only have one home. It’s easier to find one place and stay there, never faced with leaving the people and places you grow to love, and I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to matters of the heart I am often inclined to choose what is easy over what will be worth the struggle. But thinking back to that beach at Santa Monica, watching Alex move gracefully to some unseen rhythm as she found her center of gravity, I can begin to believe that maybe I don’t have to choose. I can be at home in more than one place.
Written by Erin Wolf