Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Harry Potter Means Something to Me: An Essay

Ah, the end! I thought I would share my thoughts about Harry Potter on this last day that I will ever dress up like a house elf and ride a broomstick around a parking lot, awaiting a midnight release of a book or movie.

I am writing this both hyperbolically and seriously. Mostly I am, in classic form, drawing serious nostalgia from a movie premiere (and fully aware of it) but also expressing my love and thanks for a story that has shaped a huge part of me. What are we made of, really, except the great stories that we hear and swallow? They define us. They shape us. They ignite desire in us. They call us to something greater than the humdrum existence the world tries to impose on us.

I received my first Harry Potter book on May 26,1997. It was my 11th birthday and, quite frankly, I was extremely disappointed when I opened the package to find a book. Who wants a book for their 11th birthday? I didn't. The woman (a friend of my parents') told me that this book, about a boy-wizard named Harry Potter, was the new craze in England and that she thought I would enjoy it. (suuuuurrrreee thought my 11-year-old self).

Despite my disappointment I set to reading the next day. I remember being quite surprised to find I had made it through the first 250 pages or so in about two hours without even having gotten up to stretch. I remember the room I was in. The color of the carpet. The way the sunlight hit the walls. The way my mind buzzed and filled with organized creativity and curiosity for the first time.

I feel like few people have the pleasure of pinpointing the exact moment that their mind began creating. I'm not talking about the constant stream of aliens, monsters, and manatees (yeah, my imagination was fierce) that haunted my rooms every night, nor am I talking about games me and my brother would make up or even our attempts to imagine ourselves into stories or new worlds (though all those early attempts are beautifully cemented in my memory). On that May afternoon in 1997, my mind starting actively pursuing imagination, inspiration, desire, etc.

As I flipped the pages, I faintly remember the warm shock I felt as I established the colors and textures of all the characters' robes, the moss (that I carefully placed) on the ancient stones of Hogwarts, the layout of the settings in which Harry came into and discovered himself. I was dreamer, architect, and grand designer of the Wizarding World that day. Perhaps it was simply the similarity in our ages that I shared with Harry & Co.(maybe eleven is the year we all realize who we are), but I think that was the day I discovered myself as well. Really, this might be the moment that all my longing for a real-life extraordinary existence began. And it was, for lack of a better word, magical.

From that day on, I was constantly imagining, dreaming, desiring, writing and establishing world after world bursting with places/circumstances I wanted to be (and reading HP to spur me on in my quest, of course). Places in which, quite frankly, I wasn't a socially awkward middle schooler without many friends, a weird high schooler that never quite fit in, an even stanger college student that REALLY didn't fit in, or an early 20-something realizing she didn't have to fit in : ) I couldn't stop creating. Still can't. Hopefully never will.

Tonight at midnight, millions of Potter-clad people around the world will flock to movie theatres to watch good triumph over evil in the final battle. We will act stupidly, we will have fun, we will all be part of something bigger than ourselves. I now know that this points to something buried deep within all of us. Events like this uncover the fact that we all long for this epic, good vs.evil business to be REAL, tangible, solid...why else would we care about a book/movie series that has characters called things like Winky, Lupin, Tonks, Mundungus, and Voldemort? Bahaha. It touches something significant in all of us, just as it touched something in me 13 years ago that I couldn't quite put my finger on and couldn't quite get rid of. What is any good story but a smaller version of the Real story of good truly triumphing over evil and love winning the day forever? Now: let's see Molly Weasley do the damn thing.

Harry Potter for life, baby! Thanks for the serious fun and adventure.


1 comment:

  1. i like this blog post better than all other blog posts. and that you told molly to "do the damn thing." god love ya.