The two of us rented a pay-per-view movie last night from Cox Cable, "Garden State." My girlfriend of 18 months, my roommate, my best friend, my love; we both really liked Garden State. She is from New Jersey which is the locale of the movie, so it brought her back to a time, to a place, to her home from long ago. My home it turns out, is still ahead.
"Garden State is a 2004 comedy-drama film written by, directed by, and starring Zach Braff, with Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, and Sir Ian Holm. The film centers on Andrew Largeman (Braff), a 26-year-old actor/waiter who returns to his hometown in New Jersey after his mother dies. The title alludes both to the nickname for New Jersey, and to lines from Andrew Marvell's poem "The Garden" ("Such was that happy garden-state,/ While man there walked without a mate").
"Zach Braff describes the themes of the movie as 'love, for lack of a better term. And it's a movie about awakening. It's a movie about taking action. It's a movie about how life is short, go for it now. My character says, 'I'm 26 years old, and I've spent my whole life waiting for something else to start. Now I realize that this is all there is, and I'm going to try to live my life like that. I have this theory that your body goes through puberty in its teens, and the mind goes through puberty in your twenties," he says. "[Andrew] is dealing with issues that you are going through all the time going into your thirties. He's lost and lonesome, which is something I definitely felt in my twenties'."He didn't get past the thirties in his explanation. But maybe this dialogue from late in the movie explains it for the rest of us. It is between Andrew (Braff) and Sam, (Natalie Portman) Andrew's new-found love interest. The two met while Andrew was in town for the funeral:
Andrew: You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone.
Sam: I still feel at home in my house.
Andrew: You'll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it's gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I don't know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.
Sam: [cuddles up to Andrew] Maybe.
I left in that last line about Sam cuddling up to Andrew as it is a natural lead-in from how things went from the start, with the two of us watching the movie, eating pizza in bed, watching TV on a near perfect Friday night. It was a few hours later when everything changed.
It started with her 15 minute soliloquy, or should I say sermon, of how her home is a moving target and you find it when you find the right person to fall in love with; how she thought she was home with her first two husbands, but she was wrong.....and that she still wants that right partner, the one who, "gets her, understands her, feels right for her and when happens, she will know it."
A frozen moment in time, we both realized what had just been said. Words cast out in a searing flurry of honesty; brutal, irreversible.
When two people are so far apart on their respective paths, there is nothing left to do. My bad, for reaching so hard for a home, for a love that in one fell swoop, became just some imaginary place.
Time is running out, the first lesson of turning 60.