But all good things must come to an end. …. Mustn’t they? I think not. Admittedly, I sobbed at the end of the last book and fought to hold in tears during the final movie. But those were months ago, and Harry Potter is still just as much a part of my life as it was then. I’m not upset about it being over. It was time. The books and movies aren’t going to magic themselves off the face of the earth (I hope), and there will always be insane fandom shenanigans to deal with. My life is so complexly intertwined with Harry Potter that I can’t imagine a day where I don’t think about it. And I’m not too worried about that day ever coming, because as someone once said, “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
For most of my life, the world of Harry Potter has been part of my world, too. When I was younger, Hogwarts was my safe place. If I was stressed or sad or angry or lonely, all it took was opening up one of the books to make me feel better. By now, I must have read each book a hundred times, no less. Even now, anything to do with Harry Potter is a comfortable situation for me. My friends and I like to have long, intense discussions on things like characterization, intertwining plotlines, and (of course) who was the hottest marauder. And though I’m not a child anymore, Harry Potter is still teaching me new things about myself. I spent most of high school convinced that I was a Ravenclaw, no doubt about it, no questions asked, absolutely. But when Pottermore released (and I woke up at 7am to preregister like everybody else in America), I was shocked to be sorted into Hufflepuff. According to the website, the house I had so long associated myself with wasn’t the right one. I was flummoxed. It was like the Voldemort had spontaneously decided to start handing out daisies and giving free hugs to strangers. But after the initial surprise wore off, it made me step back and evaluate myself. Who am I? What’s really important to me? What traits do I value more than others? Do I really fit into Hufflepuff House? It took me a while to think it all through, but I found (wink wink, nudge nudge) that I do. Classic Hufflepuff traits such as honestly, loyalty, tenacity, intelligence, and friendliness are the same traits that I value in my own life. If Hermione helped me develop myself, Hufflepuff has definitely helped me define myself.
While it was helping me make new friendships, Harry Potter was also helping me become myself. It was what I read through the end of my childhood and the entirety of my adolescence. I spent so much time imagining myself in that world, and with those characters. I’ve never put much stock in role models, but if I had any as a child, it was the characters that I related to most in the series. Hermione, in particular, I’ve always felt close to, because we both loved books from a young age and she was just so awesome. And when I’d get bad grades on something or get bored with school, I’d think Well, Hermione wouldn’t do that, would she? and try harder. Without her, I really don’t believe that I would’ve ended up where I am now, and I’m eternally thankful to JK Rowling for writing her into existence.
And that was when I realized that this Harry Potter thing wasn’t going to go away anytime soon. Luckily, my parents had bought my sister the first three books, so I didn’t have to wait to read the next installments. I finished them in a week, and then persuaded my best friend to read them, too. We both became obsessed. For Halloween, Teresa and I dressed up as matching Hermione Grangers. We wore Harry Potter t-shirts and played Harry Potter games. Both of our beds were covered in Harry Potter comforters, with matching pillows. And, of course, the two of us cried together when we didn’t get our Hogwarts letters at age eleven. Though Teresa was less literarily focused after elementary school, Harry Potter is still a fond memory and an important part of the base of our friendship.
Funnily enough, almost all of my best friends I met through Harry Potter. I met Aroosa (holdfasttodreams) in my sixth grade English class, when she introduced herself because she saw I was carrying around Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The same year, I became friends with Laura (hitthesky) after discovering we both loved the series. Though it was much later, I met Katie (theantiqueroman) when she interviewed me for an article on the release of the last movie. And I found Jen (aqueeninnarnia) through tumblr and we bonded over our favorite characters. Some of the most important relationships in my life are founded on Harry Potter, both in real life and online.
With the Harry Potter phenomenon winding down after the release of the final movie, I’ve seen a lot of posts going around about how people got into Harry Potter and how it’s affected their lives. And since I’m a nerd and that sounds like fun, I’m going to jump right on that bandwagon! Bear with me, guys, because I’m not kidding when I say that Harry Potter has been an integral part of my life for the past ten years. I have a lot to talk about. But let’s start at the beginning.
The first time I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I was eight years old. It was Jaclyn’s, actually, though she’d never read it (my parents had bought her several books around this time to try and encourage her to read. It hadn’t worked). But while my sister had no love for the written word in 2001, I was already obsessed with reading by the time my fingers first touched the first Harry Potter’s spine. I don’t remember the exact day it happened, or why I was even snooping around my sister’s bookshelf. It was summer, probably, and most likely, I’d read through my weekly stack from the library too quickly and was searching for something to cure my boredom. And I found it.
I was obsessed from the very first line (“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive….”), to the point where I almost literally could not put the book down. When we left the house, I read it in the car. At dinner, it was under the table. When everyone else was watching tv, it had all of my attention. My parents were amused by my apparent addiction until they found out I’d been staying up all night reading under the covers with a flashlight (oops), by which point I think they were impressed by my devotion (and okay, probably a bit irritated over the whole bedtime thing but still). This went on for three days, until I finally, finally, finished. Or rather, I thought I was finished. Because at the very end, on the flip side of the last page: HOGWARTS IS BACK IN SESSION! Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.