Because I’m a writer, I have about 4,000 screenplay pages in a folder on my computer screen. The only problem: they’re all the first page of 4,000 separate screenplays. That’s not to mention all the ideas floating around in my head, the “I should totally make that!” fantasies that I’ve soft-pitched to my hairstylist and then abandoned when I decided to binge season three of Queer Eye instead.
I want to finish a project, I really do, but there are just so many distractions. With the endless happy hours nearby, new restaurants popping up, and hot surfers in need of sunscreen application, writing my own stuff has taken a backseat. I mean, someone needs to help protect those chiseled surfer abs from UV rays. I’m of the general opinion that it should be me.
Finally last month, I decided enough was enough. I need to get away from the temptations of city life and head someplace quiet. Somewhere I could be alone, shut off the noise, declutter my brain, and create. I needed to be an artist again. So I packed up my laptop, booked the most adorable AirBnB I could find, and treated myself to the perfect weekend-long artistic retreat — a cabin in the woods near Idyllwild, just a few hours from both LA and San Diego.
My plan was simple enough: unplug, create a masterpiece, and hopefully not get eaten by a bear. I felt confident that brilliance would ensue just the second I escaped the urban grind. At the very least, there are no surfers in the mountains.
I begin my journey on a Friday morning, winding along the 243 highway, into the pine-riddled mountain town of Idyllwild. It’s a town I know well. I spent high school at Idyllwild Arts Academy, a pre-professional arts boarding school. To this day, when I think of Idyllwild, I think of artistic purity — a teenage me who wore “Free Tibet” prayer flags as clothing and wrote, produced, and starred in her own one-woman show about God. That young lady got things done.
As I drive, I wonder, “Where has that weirdo gone? Is she completely lost? Swallowed by the infinite scroll of Instagram travelers and the irresistible draw of destination festivals?” This self-reflection (okay, self-pitying) acts as my only co-pilot on the two-hour drive to the quaint town — 5,400 ft above sea level with roughly 4,000 people and precisely six billion churches.