Our friend Nick Rufca is imaginative, adventurous, open-minded, tenacious, outdoorsy and a ball of fun. Naturally, he’s got some interesting places to take us…
Actually, almost 15 years ago, Nick literally took us to one of his Happy Places, which was on top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, up the coast from Los Angeles. If we’re not mistaken, it was Point Dume. We definitely never forgot what it felt like to see someone else be so passionate about a location in nature and want to share it with friends… and some outdoor food and drinks (turning that Happy Place into a Happier Place). The early seeds of Happier Place were sown.
Originally from Connecticut, Nick Rufca spent his teenage years in the Chicago area. He attended Film School in Florida, where we became fast friends. Today, he lives in California – mainly in Los Angeles (not too far from the Pacific) and partially in a second home in the desert city Palm Springs. So he’s pretty much lived in all the different landscapes of North America.
Nick Rufca works as the director of production at New Form. He also writes a food column for Westways Magazine. But most importantly (to us anyway), he’s a very talented screenwriter. The latest film based on one of his screenplays was just released on DVD and iTunes this fall: the independent superhero movie Armstrong!
Why do you do what you do?
I love telling stories, and everything I do tells a story in some way. Screenwriting is the most obvious; my food writing allows me to tell a story as well – about a restaurant, an experience, and a culture. Overseeing production allows me to be a part of bringing a story to the world, even if I haven’t written it!
General Happy Place category?
It’s very hard for me to choose. I feel fortunate that I live near the ocean, as any activity with the ocean nearby becomes instantly elevated. That includes my weekend runs, and if I get a chance for a walk near the ocean before or after work (my office is in Santa Monica) the day is better for it.
The mountains bring me back to my childhood skiing vacations with my family; sipping hot cocoa near a roaring fire inside a mountain cabin will always wrap me tight in happy nostalgia.
However, the desert has been a later-in-life discovery for me. Recently driving into the warm, dry, crisp atmosphere of my favorite desert city, Palm Springs, always manages to gently force me into a mental state of relaxation. The air is so much nicer to breathe, and I’ve found that I don’t even mind the mid-summer 100+ heat (as long as a pool or A/C is nearby of course!).
Specific Happy Places?
Palm Springs/the desert is my Happy Place for many reasons. I first discovered the area with my two LA best guy friends as a road-trip, gay-friendly destination, when we attended the massive White Party dance event, which felt like the Spring Break I never had in college.
Over the years, it has become a fun place for us to escape to from LA together, sans-White Party but still able to be ‘us’ in another place – whether hiking in Joshua Tree or lying poolside at a Palm Springs rental house. No matter the trip, I consistently found my head cleared and my Los Angeles-woes put in refreshing perspective after a few days in the desert.
When I met my now-husband Paul, I brought him to Palm Springs to celebrate our 1-year dating anniversary. To my surprise, he was drawn to the magic qualities of the desert as much as I was. We would come out once or twice a year; sometimes with a group, sometimes just the two of us. We ended up getting married in Palm Springs, and a few years later, buying our first property. It is now truly our little slice of heaven; a city and landscape both increasingly familiar but with constant new places to discover.
What do you always bring out into nature with you?
Sunblock, water, and whenever we can, our dog Duke.
Happier Place tips?
Plan enough to be safe, but don’t plan so much that you rule out spontaneous discovery.
A dream destination (in space or time)?
Some places I’ve never been: Hawaii, Thailand, Japan.
Places I’ve been to all-too-briefly but would love to return to with my husband: Paris; a road trip through Italy; eating our way across Spain.
Inspirational quote or slogan?
I don’t have a favorite quote, but my personal mantra when traveling: wake up early, take a deep breath, and don’t waste a minute of the day ahead of you!