The year was 2004 and I was 8 years old, watching "13 Going On 30" starring Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo in my living room alongside my family, questioning exactly how life would be at 13, nonetheless at 30.
Why is it that when we are young we can never truly imagine being a few years older? And once we reach that age it's as if getting older is still an unreachable feat.
And now twice my age plus a couple years, I sit here baffled by the idea of being 8, 13, 21 and inevitably 30 years old one day.
This is what makes "13 Going On 30" the most iconic coming of age and romantic comedy ever made. The entire plot of the movie focuses on the ephemerality of growing up and how one "mistake" can trigger a lifetime of unforeseeable consequences.
With a little Hollywood magic and wishing dust, Jenna, the main character, is sent into the future with the same innocence of a 13-year-old girl, left to navigate the complex realities of adulthood, relationships, and her full-time dream job as editor of a fashion magazine in New York City. The screenwriting for the movie completely captures the beauty of having it all in terms of material items yet having nothing in terms of relationships. The idea of looking through the world with rose-colored glasses is further seen when Jenna's apparent best friend is her right-hand assistant at work. Or is she?
It can even be said that this movie is more than just a coming of age movie, as it appeals and relates to all age ranges. How is this so? Well, I would like to suggest that this movie refers to aging from a perspective that captures all those involved in Jenna's life. As we see Jenna later reverts back to wanting all the simple things in life once she is thrown into the thralls of adulthood. She finally visits her parents' home in suburbia, where her mother cooks her smiley face pancakes. At the breakfast table, Jenna asks her mom the infamous question, "Do you have any regrets in your life? Mistakes you made in the past that you wish you didn't make?" to which she says "Well, Jenna, I know I made a lot of mistakes, but I don't regret making any of them."
So, until time machines are invented, we have to remember that we can't turn back time. Therefore, the only time zone we should focus our energies on is the present. And for that reason, as we inevitably celebrate future birthdays, we can only do so with the fact of knowing our previous errors have led us to places where we are able to fix our mistakes, or at least make them right.