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Chasing The American Dream

November 26, 2004


Part two of a three-part series upon seeing the movie, “Garden State.”

I guess I could have called this post, ‘PROFILES IN COURAGE’ since my current JDate profile reflects this post. I think it scared off most everyone, but that’s cool. After all, it only takes one person, right? “The City” in this case is me. What is the key to me? What numbers must you press on the ATM machine to access my relationship code? Difficult questions to answer, for sure. Rhetorical questions because I’ve been asking myself these questions and wondering what the hell the answers are? So far, I’ve only been able to answer by turning the questions around and asking, “What isn’t or has not been the key to the city,” based on my return to the dating world this year.

I’m unhappy answering this way because it brings in a lot of negativity. I’d rather look at it from a happy, peppy point-of-view. My dates, emails, IMs, phone calls, etc. have, for the most part, lacked SOMETHING. Something is missing. I’ve had some nice times, made some friends {made some enemies, too}, but I look over at the proverbial wall and the cord is still unplugged. No electricity.

But I got some much needed help. I think I found the answer. It’s an oxymoronic answer which is fitting for me. The answer is simply complicated. Those of you who didn’t see the movie, “Garden State,” will have to sit this one out. I’ve seen it twice now. There are many, many favorite moments, but my most favorite, in all respects, holds the answer to my Sphinx riddle.

Background. Remember the scene where Andrew “Large” Largeman (Zach Braf) is at the doctor’s office and the blind lady’s seeing-eye dog Arthur is humping Large’s leg? Yeah, and this cute girl “Sam” (Natalie Portman) comes over to help him out? Right, so after the dog finally goes away, the two strike up a conversation. Sam is babbling about everything and anything, and Large just wants to hurry up and fill out his medical forms. Sam’s wearing some headphones, and Large finally asks her what she’s listening to? OK. The stage is set. Now here’s where you have to set your VCRs (if anyone still owns them) to record because here’s where the key is turned and unlocks The City. I’ll tell you when to hit “record.”

Sam answers by saying, “The Shins, ever hear of them?” Large says, “No.” So Sam takes off her headphones, hands them to Large and delivers the classic line, “Here listen to this one song, it’ll change your life, I swear.” RECORD! Large slips on the headphones and begins to listen to this a-maze-ing song called “New Slang.” Large’s smile and facial expressions say it all. He looks over at smiling Sam who has this truly genuine look of, “See I told ya!” As the camera pans back and forth to Large and Sam, both smiling big, with this unbelievably great song playing in the background, you can tell, without a word being spoken, that Sam has the key to Large’s city and perhaps, vise versa. I cried. My Garden State-of-mind, remember? I think I cried 1) mainly out of happiness because that scene was such a wonderfully refreshing and cool moment between two unique people, and 2) a bit out of sadness and emptiness because it’s a moment that I hope to share with someone holding my key. You can STOP recording now.

So you see, the answer to my question is simple. The key is the connection. Sam and Large made this, I’ll use this my friend SK’s term again, a-maze-ing connection. That feeling of, “Oh my god, this person is incredible. Be still my heart!” I call it “in the zone.” Sam sort of describes this zone of focus as being “in it.” Those two shared many more “in it” moments, but the one I relate to in terms of the connection is when Large is standing on this huge construction crane on top of a rock quarry looking down into ‘an abyss’ of sorts, and he lets out this huge bellow into the abyss. With the beautiful Simon & Garfunkel song “The Only Living Boy in New York” playing in the background, Sam and Large’s friend Mark (Peter Saarsgaard) join him on the crane and all three scream into the depths of the abyss. Sam and Large look at each other, I mean really look into each other’s eyes, and then kiss for the first time. The music, the moment, the connection. Sam and Large have truly found each other. More tears.

So? The connection is made, the key is turned, and the city is open. Easy, right? Not so fast, my friends. The complicated part is how do two people like Sam and Large arrive at ‘the connection’ moment? How do you plug that cord into the wall? For me, the connection I’m looking for is the love, passion, KNOWLEDGE, and appreciation of great music like The Shins and S&G, the love of great movies like Garden State, the passion for life that Sam has, being young, acting young, and looking young.

I think I’d more easily find this connection if I subtracted 10 from my age. My problem, I’ve noticed, is that women my age have very good intentions. They want a nice, normal guy to settle down with and have all the normal things you’d want in a relationship. Sure I want that too, but I don’t listen to Michael Bolton or Celine Dion much. I’m tired of seeing romantic comedy movie previews with Richard Gere. I’ve seen Staind, Evanescence, Live, and Gavin DeGraw in concert this year. Most, if not all, of the women I described have never even heard of any of this music. Garden State was different. I’m different. Maybe too much so. You may say I’m vain and have some nerve since I’m pushing 43. Maybe you think I'm just trying to hang onto youth? I really believe that I live, act, and judgmentally speaking look young. I’m not saying you have to be 29. You can be 40 for all I care, but if you indeed look, act, and live young then I could give a shiite how old you are. I wish more women felt that way, but I think they just see a number (42) and figure I’m too old, and the game is over before it can ever begin. And so the chase continues.

As my pal Forrest Gump one said, “That’s all I have to say about that.” Stay tuned for part three of this Garden State trilogy. I noticed something peculiar and, to me, humorous while I watched the movie…


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