I finally watched 13 Going On 30 tonight for the first time. In this movie, Jen's newly 30 character has to redesign a teen magazine and in her presentation she recreates the high school dream that the media sells every teenage girl. Having undergone a Big-like transition, she doesn't remember her teenage years and to some extent I think that is why it seems so attractive. Even those of us who have primarily positive memories of that time also remember the turmoil and uncertainty of trying to find our way as our world changed around us--or maybe as we changed in a static world.
When I was a senior in high school I wrote an essay for a college application which illustrated the concept of parallelism. In the first paragraph I described those expectations that John Hughes had led me to desire: a cute boyfriend on a sports team, a car in the driveway with a bow on my 16th birthday and easy achievement of my dreams. Then I contrasted those expections with the realities of high school life including Saturday nights studying at home and the lack of transportation. But I ended the essay with my characteristic optimism, describing my expectations for college--all the things I thought I would have in high school but didn't.
As I approach a personal landmark birthday this week, I find I'm in a similar place. I look at my life around me and think that sometime soon, maybe once my age ticks forward, I'll start to live the twenty-something life I thought I would, the life that Jen wished for in the movie tonight: flirty and thriving.