We were soaking wet from the rain pour and exhausted after stomping through mud for fifteen minutes. Unprepared for a hike in general and in a freak storm in particular our jackets weren't really rain proof, my computer bag was leaking and our sneakers were squishing water and dirt. They sank in so deep that every step was a small effort. And now we had stopped, frightened of what had been announced as a "tiny ravine" and had become a crazy wild water rushing through our path. We had to cross THAT?
It was a Hollywood trip; my kid, my dog and me had arrived in LA, broke after a stock market disaster and over the ears full of hope that my reinvention as a screenwriter would manifest rapido. I had been a journalist for 7 years, with a non fiction book about experimental theater on the market and several successful business ventures under my belt. Other than my investment crash my life's experiences pointed to success. Yes, in LA, against neysayers and rolling with the Hollywood dreams and all.
Of course when we make big mistakes like losing all our money it nags at our psyche and makes us feel like losers; nothing that self empowerment mantras can't push under the table, or so it seems.
When I met the long haired 50 year old director, with his very impressive 100 page investment proposal, which several people had already made funds available for, fate smiled at me. This was it. The Universe had heard me, answered me and had served this friendly hippie man right on a silver platter. His cool Native American vibe (he was 33 % Cherokee, he said) touched my freedom loving, adventurous heart and when he offered me a part time job I was super happy to accept. He presented the two men living with him in the west side apartment as his production and writing team. I was the female voice and they needed it; the women in the first act of the script were bloodless and bland and looking for a light... I felt needed and capable to fix this. They were on a deadline as their investors wanted to see the finished script and they needed more investors...
Their funds seemed to pay for everything, their expenses and rent... but I didn't want to care. I got a salary for doing something that I loved and would get a writing credit for.
The director, and I'm still not sure how naive I had been to believe his story, came up with the amazing idea to write the female characters in the wilderness as that's where most of the movie was playing. Kinda like method writing.
It was a two hour ride and we used my tough two door Bronco, not a rough pickup truck but close to the feel of it. The director didn't have a driver's license and I didn't ask. Maybe he had a DUI; I wanted to be polite. Maybe he was a criminal, but I thought about that only later after I hated him.
My dog jumped on his lab. I thought it was cute but she did what she had never done and would never do again; she pooped on his lab.
I should have know then. My sternly house broken dog who would alert us if she needed to go had expressed her clear mistrust for the man.
At the site we were not allowed to drive through the wilderness with the truck. The road was blocked off by a huge gate. The director said that they must have added that recently. "We can walk, no problem, it's only fifteen minutes from here," he assured us. We were not prepared for serious hiking but this didn't sound too bad. What's a couple minute walk...
After 10 minutes it started to drizzle. "No problem," he said, "it drizzles here some times."
5 minutes later it was pouring.
Another 5 minutes and I had enough, I wanted to turn back but our camp was "right around the corner." There would be a covered picnic area, a hot spring for us to warm up and bathrooms to dry ourselves. He would put up the tents under big trees.
When we arrived at the rushing ravine we were close to 30 minutes in, drenched and cold. I worried about hypothermia, what the heck was I supposed to do?? My kid... He just shrugged his shoulders.
Any mother can imagine my panic.
I had a drama queen moment and flipped, screaming at the wild water, the fucking mud and the irresponsible, crazy man. He grabbed my bag and crossed the ravine. "It's not too bad", he yelled back at us, "you can do it. And I can see the camp site from here."
Kid on one hand, leash in the other, laptop around my neck we crossed. It was slow and scary with our dog nearly being pulled away.
We made it and indeed, there was the camp site; we were safe.
Only that the hot spring was a 2 x 2 x 2 concrete basin with hot water, the two picnic tables weren't covered and the bathrooms were dingy and towel deprived. We threw our stuff into one of the rooms and jumped into the hot tub, which was the life saver of the day. I'm not kidding. I had gone there, to the dark thought of freezing to death...
The director put up the first tent but alas, they only had sun roofs, porous sun roofs, the solid tops hadn't been part of the special deal. I would have jumped at his throat if I wasn't so tired and if it hadn't been for those voices... three other hikers had been surprised by the storm and got just stranded here. Real hikers and prepared they lend us a dry towel and we all got a sip of some hot beverage from their thermos.
It was tight with 6 people in the restroom for our pow how, should we stay or should we go? but at least it felt warm and somehow safe.
The director dude had lied; he had no clue where the camp site really was and how it looked like, he had endangered my family's life. From now on I ignored him. Actually I hated him.
The three other campers had maps and found a least treacherous path to get back to the parking place. I was so tired that I left our bags when we joined the trio on the march back. Another group of people had found shelter at the amenities back at the parking lot. My kid and I crawled into the truck, heater on high, and changed into dry tee shirts, luckily I always had extras flying around in my truck. The dog got rubbed down with her dog towel. After one of the other campers shared a cup of soup with us we fell asleep in the car where we stayed over night. Every hour or so I ran the motor and its hot air kept us somewhat cozy.
On the next sunny morning the rancher brought my bags from the camp site. A dozen sweet and helpful people - and one rotten apple.
I expected the director to write his own scene to get home. We left without acknowledging his existence. We never spoke again.
Three months later I passed by his apartment and it was for rent. The phone number was disconnected, the one page website was an error message. Was their's a naive dream to make it in Hollywood fast and furious, like my own? Or had they pulled a conscious scam? If so had we been in danger with this man?
My intuition says that they started out with dreams and became scam artists pretty fast but that they weren't "real" criminals. I want to believe that hippies with dream catchers and peace drums can be trusted. But maybe we were totally lucky and the storm made us slip and slide away from a real disaster. The Universe might have seen and heard us in a different way than I had thought.
I'm not naive anymore, not with Hollywood nor its people.
But after many added experiences I understand why I lost my small fortune in a stock market gamble; I discovered my unconscious beliefs and went on a journey to reframe my thoughts and rewire my brain.
I'm on the other side of the wild water. I am still in Hollywood and much closer to its dream.