We are wizards, and our hearts are filled with hope!

15 Jul

“Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend” – Stephen King

I realize that I could have gone with a direct quote from the books for both the title (from a Harry and the Potters song) and the quote above (which I totally stole from my friend’s status), but I feel like this choice kind of sums up how I’ve been feeling as this day has been approaching. I already know the way it’s going to end, but I still don’t want it to. Today is a day to be sentimental, and I’ve seen it coming for months.

I can’t remember a time when Harry Potter wasn’t in my life. I didn’t start reading the books when they first came out in 1997, but by the time I was in middle school (around 1999) I was hooked. I remember the agony of waiting for each book to come out, the rush to put my name on the list for books the day they came out at the local Borders, and a state of feverish, urgent ecstasy as I tore through each one. I also felt an awareness, especially as the books started to get darker, that each book was one closer to the end.

Harry Potter wasn’t just a book to me. Most of the fans out there probably feel the same. When I was younger I had a terrible time falling asleep. I couldn’t stop my mind from going places I didn’t want it to go, and falling asleep was a very anxious time for me. Then, my parents bought me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on tape. I fell asleep every night listening to Harry’s adventure. I can quote many of the scenes from that book line for line. When we went on vacations, Harry came with me in my walkman. I kept it by my bed all the time. I eventually branched out to the second and third books. I didn’t just use them to fall asleep anymore. I would listen to Harry defeat the basilisk and save Sirius Black doing household chores or just sitting around in my room.

I was headed to Girl Scout Camp when the fourth book came out. I wasn’t the only camper distracted by the Triwizard Tournament when I was supposed to be learning the sign language to “Eternal Flame.” I have a very vivid memory of reading Dumbledore’s speech at the end of The Goblet of Fire. I can see the words on the page, and I remember tearing up about what seemed so unfair. I was so happy in the fifth book, because I though Harry would finally be able to live with Sirius and have a real family. When Sirius died, I was devastated for Harry Potter. I was impressed with Ginny’s advances as a kickass witch and Quidditch player, and I was ready for Ron and Hermione to JUST GET TOGETHER ALREADY.

The first time J.K. Rowling broke my heart was when she killed Dumbledore. I was seventeen when The Half Blood Prince came out. My mother was sitting downstairs and I was upstairs in my room, like the teenager I was, tearing through the agonizing scene with Harry and Dumbledore as they tried to retrieve the Horcrux. When Dumbledore’s spell on Harry was broken, and I realized that Dumbledore was dead, I was in total shock. I turned the pages back, thinking I had to have missed something, because there was no way that Dumbledore could ever die. I could not even find solace in the great Headmaster’s words from the first book (“To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure”). I ran down the stairs and stood in front of my mom as the tears rolled down my face. “What is it?” she asked, afraid that something had happened. “Dumbledore,” I sobbed, “died!” After she realized that I was in no physical pain or danger, she let me sit on her tiny, petite, 5’1″ lap and cry.

Do you remember all of the discussions that took place between the sixth book and the release of The Deathly Hallows? Everyone had a theory. Would Harry die, or would he live? What would happen to Neville, the other possibility for the prophecy? Was Harry a Horcrux? Why was he being such an ass to Ginny, didn’t he realize she could take care of her own damn self? (OK, maybe that last one was just me. Did I mention that I’m currently dressed in my Ginny Weasley costume and waiting for my friend to get home so we can leave for the movie already?)

Well, I thought I had it all figured out. In my slightly tragic version of The Deathly Hallows, Ron, Harry, and Hermione find the first six horcruxes and realize that Harry is the seventh. Harry goes out with his friends to the final battle and knows that he has to die so that the others can finally kill Voldemort. Voldemort kills Harry, and then Neville takes his place as the other Chosen One and vanquishes Voldemort for good. Everyone is sad, but Ron and Hermione lead the rebuilding of the wizarding world, with the help of all of our other wizarding friends. Also, in my version, Malfoy has a change of heart and joins Dumbledore’s Army in the end.

Obviously, J.K. and I had different visions.

If you’ve read the books, you know how it ends. And, if you haven’t, STOP READING THIS AND GET THEE TO A LIBRARY! You could also go to my mom’s house. My Harry Potter books are there until I find a more permanent home. Anywho, stop reading, now, because Harry Potter is a zillion times better than this. That’s right, I said a zillion.

Back to the seventh book. I was staying with a friend for a week in Plano, TX when The Deathly Hallows came out. We’d been invited to a super cool eighties themed party, complete with booze, on the same night as the midnight book release. So, of course, we went to the party. And then we left at 11:30.

There we were, some of the oldest people at the midnight release, dressed in eighties clothes and slightly tipsy. Everyone in the entire store was counting down to midnight. I felt my pulse starting to race as it got closer, and as the countdown started the excitement took total control. Anastasia and I screamed with all the children and preteens when they started handing out the books, and we really didn’t stop screaming until we got to the family mini-van. We did not want anyone coming by and ruining the book for us, like happened with The Half Blood Prince. Do you remember that? It was like the big thing was, if you weren’t a Harry Potter fan and were, therefore, pissed because you weren’t in on the biggest and best secret ever, you would run around telling everyone SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE.

Isn’t it strange to think that someone telling the ending of a book to a line of young people would cause international outrage? Young people getting angry because someone spoiled the ending… of a book.

That’s Harry Potter though, isn’t it? When the seventh book came out, I couldn’t imagine what life would be like when there was no more Harry Potter to look forward to. The hypothesizing, the rereading, the yearning, it was part and parcel of my life (and that of every other Potter fan). I have a feeling that’s why the first part of the seventh movie didn’t do as well as people expected. The other movies happened in time with the book craze, and everyone was used to waiting for Harry Potter. I think some people stopped waiting. But, a lot of us never did. Like the seventh book, the seventh movie was for us. Who can put it better than J.K. herself? “…and to you, if you have stuck with Harry to the very end.”

After my friend and I ran, screaming, to the car, we attempted to start the book on the way home as I read the first page aloud from the passenger seat. This wasn’t nearly magical enough for either of us, so we waited until we got home. Harry Potter was serious business. Three people in the house were reading The Deathly Hallows at the same time, so we had to set some ground rules. I remember one was, “No reading after 2 AM.” We figured we should at least try to sleep. We sat in the living room, the three of us, and read in silence for hours. Every so often, someone would start crying, so we had multiple boxes of kleenex on hand. A friend was having a party in Austin, I don’t remember what for, but we went. I sat in the backseat of the van and read all the way. I had taken off my seatbelt (completely unsafe never ever do this) in order to get into the optimal position for reading, when we hit traffic and I flew, The Deathly Hallows in hand, onto the floor of the van. When we finally got to the party it was business as usual, except that one room in the apartment had been designated the Harry Potter Reading Room. Stepping in was like entering another apartment all together. On one side of the door, there was loud music, alcohol, and dancing. On the other, young college sophomores occupying every available surface and reading together in silence.

[Note: Between paragraph above and the paragraph below, my friend got home and we went to the movie. Carrying on…]

Harry Potter is really important to me. As you can see, it’s played a formative role in my life. It’s played an important role for my entire generation. Sometimes, I feel like we have our own international version of “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”: “What did you do when Dumbledore died?”

Everyone has a story, most people have many. I am a rather sentimental person in general, and when it comes to Harry Potter, I am especially so. I wanted the last two movies to be some kind of perfect. So much of myself is all tangled up with Harry Potter. I needed the last two movies to be epic, because I wanted them, somehow, to mean something. I went to see the first part of The Deathly Hallows with someone who had never read the books and had only seen three of the movies. I spent half of the time preparing myself for Dobby’s death and the other half of the time distracted by my date’s obvious disinterest. I felt like some kind of bubble had popped. Harry Potter was supposed to be special. Why wasn’t it special?

I approached the movie tonight with a mixture of emotions all bubbling up inside of me and trying to get out and express themselves. When the movie started, I could feel my pulse starting to race. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get into the story, but I shouldn’t have ever worried. Seeing Harry Potter at midnight is like seeing a movie with one hundred friends. You know that no one will be stupid and ruin the movie, because everyone is just as much of a Potter fan as you. I got completely carried away by the movie tonight. Everything was perfect.

Of course, it wasn’t the book. The movies never are. But, it was Harry Potter. It was Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville, Luna, and Ginny. It was also Fred, Tonks, and Lupin. It was “not my daughter, you bitch!” It was McGonagal kicking all kinds of ass, and it was Snape. I cried, of course, but not because anything was ending. As I left the theater, I heard someone say, “I don’t want to leave! Then, it will be over!” That is how I expected to feel, too. Instead, I just felt so satisfied. Harry Potter is bigger than one stinkin movie. Plus, I fully intend to see it again, and then to shelve my boxed set next to my old, ragged, dogeared books. If I have children, and one of them asks for a bedtime story, I will tell them about a little boy who lived in a broom closet under the stairs and teach them, too, that just because something happens in your head doesn’t make it any less real.

After all, Harry Potter and all of the other wonderful characters J.K. Rowling brought to life won’t ever leave us. To end, I’ll paraphrase Neville Longbottom, unsung badass hero. They are in our hearts. Always.


One Response to “We are wizards, and our hearts are filled with hope!”

  1. Sonia July 29, 2011 at 2:57 am #

    And now I am crying at work…thanks a lot.

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