Sunday, July 31, 2016

Happy Birthday, Harry!

I’ve always been an overly realistic person. Don’t worry, I’ve heard all the jokes about how realists are actually pessimists. But I can honestly say I’ve been a pretty grounded person my whole life. I have a weak imagination and am not a big dreamer. While I always enjoyed reading as a child, I can say I had an affinity for non-fiction books, especially memoirs and autobiographies (I still do!). So although I was in the Harry Potter generation, I wasn’t really a part of the mania.

It wasn’t until I saw the first movie when I was about 15 years old that I fell in love. I fell in love with the story, with the characters, and with the idea that such a world could exist. Even more so—that the idea could exist in somebody’s mind! The author was brilliant. She had opened up a whole new part of my mind. A spell to retrieve something quickly, to make something float, or to repair something? An invisibility cloak? Flying on brooms? Wizarding school? Pet owls that deliver mail? I'm in!

I loved and enjoyed all of the movies. It wasn’t until after the release of the fifth movie that I decided it was time to buckle down and read the books that everyone had already been loving for years, behind the times or not, it had to be done. I read all seven books in about six weeks, which is extremely fast for me. My depth of love for the characters increased exponentially. I sobbed and sobbed in many parts—genuinely heartbroken for the characters (the friends!) I cared so deeply about. I sat in awe of how the author had tied so many things together, seemingly subtle little things that ended up being terribly profound and important. How did she keep track of everything? How did I miss all these connections?

I read an article in my teaching grammar class about the brilliance of the language used in the Harry Potter books. All of her spells and many of the names of people and places had Latin roots. My admiration only increased as I noted the extreme care and thoughtfulness she put into her language—into every element of her books. I stood and stand in awe as somebody who wishes her mind naturally created and explored those places.

I’ve started to re-read the series. I am in the middle of book three, but I don’t own it, and my Overdrive checkout expired. I've been meaning to buy a used copy. The boxed set has been on my Amazon wish list for a long time. I've pre-ordered the Cursed Child and am waiting for it to arrive.

One of the best gifts I ever got was from some friends after my surgery: all the movies on Blu-Ray!

I could talk forever and ever about the characters in the book—about their development and the sacrifices they make for Harry and others, and about the development of the plot over so many pages, about the themes, about the depth and planning.

Among other things, these movies, especially the first one, are a major part of my family. We bond over movies, and especially over Harry Potter. Our love for the movies and for each other runs deep.

Now, I would never claim to be a serious “Potterhead” or whatever they’re called. Having only read the books once through, many years late, my Potter knowledge pales in comparison to many other people I know. I wouldn’t dare play a game of Quidditch (unless it was on a board). I barely figured out which house I fit into (Ravenclaw).

What I do know is that these books, the characters, the stories, the themes, have brought so much light and happiness into my life. They awakened a part of my mind that I really hadn’t accessed, an imagination I didn’t know I possessed, and an appreciation for fantasy and magic that I never had before. These books and the characters and stories within have emotionally affected me more deeply than probably any others that I’ve read. One day I plan on reading these books at bedtime if I ever get the chance to have children. They will know and love the magical world their whole lives because of it.