I’ve always felt that the iconic scene of Garden State was silly and clichéd. It seemed like an unrealistic intuition to just scream and yell into an abyss, covered in trash bag ponchos. I saw the movie as a high school student and already felt the pangs of disillusionment that comes with years of dealing with such an education that I begrudgingly received.
But then I found myself, along with three friends, originating from locations you could connect on a map and create a giant frame of the country, driving down a winding road in Northern California.
We had just walked through a redwood forest at dusk. Before this point, my only association with such unbelievably large trees was in elementary school, when we learned “This Land is Your Land” in music class. The setting sun was racing us through the climbs and descents of the mountain pass.
The weather was ideal, so we had the windows cracked enough to let the wind hum through. Mixed in with the dull roar, a few notes from a bagpipe caught up to us. The road was empty, save for a smattering of small cars every few miles, so we decided the only thing to do would be to pull off to the side of the road.
The bagpipe player was a few bends behind us, but looking off into the wide expanse that lay below us, we could still hear the faint chords. One friend dared us to stand in the middle of the road. We of course took the challenge until the next car went whirring past.
Shuffling our feet in the gravel and dirt we looked out at the variegated topology of the land that lay before us. The green was overwhelming, as was the sudden sense of being the only ones to see this sight at this exact moment. It felt so important that we were there, and there together. It was easy to get lost in the feeling.
Looking at each other, we knew we had to do it. We had to scream into the abyss. We didn’t bother questioning the ridiculousness of the act. This was just something that was right.