Part of my job entails the perpetuation and maintenance of a Twitter feed that includes a number of literary news organizations/websites/et al. As such, it was a bit hard to avoid talk of the final Harry Potter movie today (as if I wasn’t thinking of it already; my roommates and I ordered our tickets for a 10:30 showing tonight). Furthermore as such –– is that a phrase people use? –– I have been dealing all day with a terrible premonition that I will cry in the theater. Like with many things, I have A Lot of Feelings with regard to the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise.
My first real introduction to JKR and her oeuvre occurred on the first day of sixth grade, when I walked into my language arts class to discover 10 out of my 12 classmates were reading either The Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets or Prisoner of Azkaban, and my reaction was more or less this: “Criminy! Who the hell is Harry Potter? Is this, like, a thing now?” My best friend at the time confirmed that it was, indeed, a thing now and foisted her copy of Sorcerer’s Stone upon me. Needless to say, by the end of the week I was in thrall.
Very many things since then have changed in our lives and the world at large, as you may have noticed.
When Harry Potter first came on my radar, Bill Clinton was President of the United States. 9/11 hadn’t happened. I was five feet zero inches tall and wore the same dress size I do now. I had an entirely different set of friends (in fact, I would not grow up to retain even one of the close friends I had in September of 1999). I wore bellbottoms with a broken zipper because the flared pantlegs were the widest I could find. Y2k loomed; my parents stockpiled Poland Springs and soup cans in the basement. Sometimes, I thought about asphxiating myself. Meeting Harry and getting to watch him get away from the Dursleys was kind of the best thing to happen all year. Hogwarts was the best thing all year. I mean, my God! HOGWARTS! If only, amirite?
Detractors of Harry Potter will say it’s poorly written, will point to the abundance of adverbs Ms. Rowling employs. Yes, okay, there’s a lot of adverbs there (an influence, I admit, that has appeared in my own writing in the past). Fine. Others might say it’s for children, with the emphasis on child, or might imply in some other way that a predilection for dressing in Gryffindor colors or expressing excitement for a midnight premiere makes one less of a worthy human being. Believing in magic is for babies, is what they mean, and You Are Not a Baby Anymore. It’s true, I’m not. I’m twenty-three years old. But at the time I met Harry Potter, I was eleven! I needed to believe in the possibility of magic even as I knew that Hogwarts did not exist, would never exist. Harry Potter could be my stand-in and dear friend in a way other literary characters weren’t, for whatever reason (see: Frodo). If Harry went to Hogwarts, I went to Hogwarts. If he learned how to lull three-headed dogs to sleep and rescue wrongly-convicted Byronic heroes and fight Voldemort, I learned how to lull three-headed dogs to sleep and rescue wrongly-convicted Byronic heroes and fight Voldemort. When he discovered a monster built of feelings living inside his chest, I knew what he meant. And he could be whiny on occasion, yes, or self-righteous, or obnoxiously martyristic, but so could I. (So am I, actually. Let’s be honest here.) Harry and crew were my friends, y’know? I’d take on a lesser Death Eater for them. I’d box old Avery right in the ears.
So, yeah, anyway –– I am fairly certain I will bawl like Draco Malfoy in Book Six by the time the end credits roll tonight. I feel both excitement and dread.
[ETA: I did not cry. My roommate did, though.]