This is a post that will expose my absolute nerdiness. So consider yourself warned.
Every year, I take it upon myself to read the Harry Potter series. I remember when these books first came out; I was in fifth grade, sitting in Mrs. Harris’ class, when we were given “free time” to read, or work on homework, or do whatever. I remember delighting in this free period, because being a fifth grader my time was split between the lovely Mrs. Harris, a woman who I adored, and Ms. Turner, the likes of which could be compared to Deloris Umbridge (and that is putting it nicely). I loathed, utterly LOATHED Ms. Turner. But that is another story for another time.
One day during our free time I remember my best friend, Jordan (who I actually married in the third grade, and who was my husband until we were old enough to realize how silly and “childish” we were being) pulled out a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
I went to a Christian school, and the Harry Potter books were evidently frowned upon. I had no idea why, as I had never heard of this so called Harry Potter, and had no idea why my school would ever frown upon a book. Later that day I asked my mother, and she told me about the premise of the book– there was a bunch of wizards who did spells, blah, blah, blah. Being that I had more important things on my mind (like painting my nails with the most horrid tasting nail polish to prevent me from biting my fingernails) I forgot all about the boy named Harry.
Fast forward a few years. My sister is talking about this growing phenomena– Harry Potter. I scrunched my face; where had I heard this before? I knew I had heard of Harry Potter, but I couldn’t place where. She said I should see the movies, but, more importantly, read the books.
“NO!” I exclaimed. I really had no interest in the series; it didn’t seem all that interesting to me. Where was Shakespeare? Give me Billy Shakes. (Basically, I was Percy- a pretentious git.)
“Please” my sister said, “give them a chance.” I remember telling her, point blank, that I had no interest in them. But, seeing as I like to please people, I said I would give the first one a chance, and set about reading it. I thought it was a good enough book; I was definitely more interested in the series than I ever had been, but I didn’t have a burning desire to pick up the next book. Somewhat reluctantly I began to read the next book, then the next, my curiosity growing with each flip of the page.
It was only when I heard of the next book’s release date that it all sort of fell into place. I think I had read maybe the first two books, when it was announced that Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince would be released on my birthday. That, my dear readers, was all it took.
You see, I have a sort of…obsession (for lack of better term) for things that are released on my birthday. For instance, I remember explicitly telling my mother that we HAD to see George of the Jungle, not because I was interested in it, but because it came out on my birthday. Then I JUST HAD to see Legally Blond when it came out on my birthday, though that one I was actually quite interested in. (The same can be said for the two movies coming out on my birthday this year- Inception. Bless my mother’s heart, she said she would see them with me if I couldn’t find anyone else. This is why I love her.)
So, as you see, I HAD to read the first five books because I HAD to get the sixth book by my birthday. By this time, I was actually into the series, which was good. And so I read.
And I read.
And I read.
And I read.
That seemed to be all I was doing (I mean, it technically was). I read the first five books IN ONE WEEK. Now, if you don’t understand why that is such an accomplishment, I ask you to go look at the growing size of the books. They only get larger, with Order of the Phoenix (the 5th book) being the largest and coming in at 870 pages. Eight hundred and seventy pages. Books 1-5 total in at 2, 689 pages and I read it all in a week. (I don’t even know how I managed that. In case you were wondering, because I was, the entire series comes in at 4,100 pages.)
And then we have one of the best memories I have whilst living in that terrible town in North Carolina. I, along with my sister and our mutual friend who worked at the coffee shop with us, went to the bookstore at midnight, got sorted by the sorting hat, watched as people had fake duels between rows and rows of books, not caring if they cast a killing curse or unforgivable curses on the likes of Salinger or Kierkegaard. Who were these men compared to Mad-Eye and Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lupin, Tonks, etc!?
Finally the manager (with an air not unlike Filch) came onto the overhead speaker, and said it was time, the clock was ticking and it was one or two minutes until midnight. If we had a voucher, now was the time to get it out. (I had one, and, surprise, surprise, I still have it, hanging on my wall to the very left of where I’m sitting now.) It was as if an entire spell was cast over the store; everyone broke out into applause and whispers and talk of excitement. People were throwing theories around like their lives depended on it. Then, at last, we reached midnight.
Then I got my book.
My sister got her book.
Our fried got her book.
We then headed off to Dennys, to read our books over a nice warm breakfast. At 12 in the morning. I think I got about 3oo or so pages in before we decided to head home. Once in the comfort of my warm bed, I read the rest of the tale of Harry Potter, Dumbledore, Snape, and the Half Blood Prince. It was amazing. I couldn’t soak it in fast enough. Oh, sure, another reading (or four or five) would be needed to properly understand everything. But it was so amazing, sitting there and getting more pieces of the puzzle.
But just as may pieces I got, that many more remained. I could not wait, simply could not wait for the ending. And yet, I didn’t want it to come. I couldn’t think, couldn’t believe that there was actually going to be an end. Just think, not even two months ago I wanted nothing to do with Harry and the gang, but now I could think of nothing else.
Time continued to march onwards, and soon I found myself in college, a mere little fish swimming in a big pond. I had friends at school, but I always felt a bit…lonely. I don’t know why; I was surrounded by family and friends from my church. I relied on my books, my school work to get me through. (This, is no doubt, a surefire example of why I belong in Ravenclaw.)
Before I knew it, it was time for the seventh book to come out. Again, the midnight release fell upon us, my sister and I having procured our vouchers yet again, set off for the midnight release. It was amazing. Just like the book before us I was sorted, I watched duels, spells flying everywhere, and I may have even got a temporary tattoo of something (I don’t even remember now, it is all a bit hazy). I just remember getting my book, driving my sister and myself back home, and reading. And reading. And not emerging from my room until it was over.
It was over.
Don’t worry; I’m not going to spoil anything for you. I don’t think I realized then, what an impact this series had on me. A lot of times I relate to characters from television shows, or movies, or books, especially books. I want to be them, I want to live in their world. I get emotionally attached to the point of near obsession and then I have to take a step back, and force myself not to go near that particular show/movie/book for a good while. I put down Deathly Hallows and didn’t return to it until a year later. I had forgot just how incredible (and incredibly sad) the book is, or rather, the series as a whole. I still can’t quite put it into words just how…connected I was to the story, to the characters.
Then, in 2008, I was able to take a little trip to London, England, where I made sure I visited Platform 9 3/4. It was insane. I felt like I might actually be able to go to Hogwarts, to sit in the cozy tower and delight in a house elf warming my bed and providing me with snacks. But alas, reality set in, and I just ended up taking a series of hilarious pictures with my friend.
So every year I set out to re-read the books. I try and only do this once a year, not just because they are an overwhelming read, but because I get really, really attached to them. Like my own personal Mirror of Erised. But this year it was different. I don’t know why, but every time I think of the franchise as a whole, books, movies, etc., I get really sad. I tear up (sometimes actually cry-cry.) I say I don’t know why, but really, it is because when the last movie ends next July, it will be just that. The end. No more Harry Potter, no more Hermione or Ron, nothing. Many people may not know this about me, but I absolutely dread change. I do not like it one bit. You should have seen me as a kid- moving from state to state. I know my father couldn’t help it; it was his job. I have no resentment towards him, but I really hated making new friends. I’m painfully shy, and what seemed to be my entire second grade year was spent throwing up before school every. single. morning. And then because the school I went to in second grade was so horrible, I was moved to another school in third grade, and on the first day, I sat there in the car, with my purple and pink lunchbox, hanging open, the contents of which were on the floor, because I was becoming sick in it. And my sister and brother just watched, perhaps rolling their eyes, thinking “there she goes again.” And I vaguely remember my mother not really yelling at me, but basically telling me to stop and get over it. But it is a gut reaction. I get sick when I am nervous, scared, excited, anything. My gut reaction is to…vomit. (Charming, I know.)
And this is how I get with the ending of Harry Potter. As I read through them this year, I couldn’t help but thinking, I HAVE to get to the last book, it is by far the best of the series. But I didn’t want to get to the last book…because it is the last in the series. But yesterday afternoon, I made it. I started Deathly Hallows, and finished it in less than 24 hours. And I have to admit, because I’ve already exposed so much of myself in this post, that I spent a large portion of the book crying. Now, I will tell you, I always cry while reading this book. There is simply no avoiding it. But this time it was different. I cried on and off, a single tear here, a tear there, a few tears in a particular section of the book that I will not mention for fear of further embarrassment/spoilers. But then I hit chapter thirty-one, and I started crying. A lot. More than usual. Then chapter thirty-two, three, and onwards. Before I realized it, I was sobbing. Like, actually whole body shaking, sobbing. The kind where you have cried so much you can’t produce real tears anymore, so you are just sort of convulsing and you can’t really help it, and you are making crying noises, but it just feels (and, no doubt, looks) painful. THAT kind of sobbing.
You may be laughing at me, but maybe the select few who have read the books know what I am talking about. The written word is a very powerful thing, and you can’t really understand that until you’ve read something that makes you think, or laugh, or cry, or sob like a baby. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you this Internet, I sobbed from chapter thirty-one, until the end of the book, chapter thirty-six. That is a lot of crying. I’m tearing up just writing this. I knew I had to finish this tonight, because there was absolutely NO WAY I could bring this book to class (as I’ve been doing) and read it, with people surrounding me. Heck, I had to close the door to my room in my apartment so my roommate didn’t see/hear me, although she totally got it and said she would cry too when she got to it (She’s currently on book 6).
I’m not quite sure why I’m posting this, if there is even a real point, other than me telling you about my painfully nerdy side. I don’t care if this makes me an even bigger freak than some already think I am. If I got anything from these books, it was to not be afraid to be myself, even if some of those Aunt Petunias out there called me freaks. You would be surprised how many of my friends on campus call me a freak. I kid you not; after one particularly painful day of getting called a freak by no less than three people (not counting my roommate who called me a freak every single day, I’m not lying), and tired of crying about it when I was alone in my room, I shouted that the word has no affect on me anymore. It’s lost its meaning. This, of course, was not true, but you can’t let the bastards know they got you down. Constant Vigilance.
These books, this series, this little boy who used to live under the stairs, has completely changed me, and my life. It has brought me a little closer to my sister, though she may not realize it, and it has allowed me to have courage in myself. I don’t want the ending to come, but I know it has to. Harry walked into the forest, knowing it had to be done, and I know that I have to detach myself from these novels, at least until the movie comes out in November. I don’t think you have had to be with Harry from the release of the first book to truly understand the impact of the book. I think that I came in at the perfect time in my life, and however cheesy, or stupid, or freakish this post makes me, all the better. I’m a different person than I was in high school, even in my first four years of college. I can’t wait for this next year, when I will have my own classroom, my own set of students, and my own challenges. I know I can face them, and I know why. Books are my life; I’ve dedicated countless hours reading and researching and writing on them. As long as I’ve got the golden trio in my heart, and on my bookshelves, I am invincible.
Bring it on.