In elementary school, I received my first Harry Potter novel and the first in the series. Then I remember picking the second out of the scholastic book catalog along with a ruled journal that had an illustration of Platform 9 3/4 on the cover which I still have to this day. After that, I was hooked. I remember watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at my dad’s house in VCR format and being so excited to have a visual to the books. And then they kept coming. Every release date of a book or movie would make my stomach flip-flop, my heart and breath would stop, and I would be beyond giddy with excitement.
After that, I constantly expressed my love for Harry Potter to my family. My mother always bought me the movies and my father always bought me the books. He'd always go and drive 40 minutes to bring it to me. Always on the release date and I'd spend the next day reading and finishing it no matter how big it was. The last movie my father and I saw in theaters was the final Harry Potter movie, Deathly Hallows Pt. 2, the summer before he passed away. Looking back, it is so horribly fitting due to the melancholy and mournful nature of the ending. In one scene, the essence of Harry Potter's loved ones come to bring him strength. Harry questions, "you'll stay with me?" and his father, the same name as my father, James, says, "until the very end" and 4 months later, on December 20th, he passed away.
Although they couldn’t see the hype, they knew how important it was to me. My brother and I are not close, yet he purchased almost every Harry Potter item in Barnes & Noble for me one Christmas. I took a train to New York City for the Harry Potter exhibit at Discovery Times Square that my sister purchased tickets for one year for my birthday.
When my parents divorced and my mother and I moved into our new apartment the summer before 6th grade started, the Order of the Phoenix was on top of the fridge as we unpacked everything. I can still see the fresh, vivid blue book jacket that was my favorite cover to date.
When Dumbledore died in the sixth book, it was midnight for me and I came downstairs to the kitchen, crying my eyes out.
I remember when they announced they were creating a Harry Potter world in Florida and I cried. Countless hours of roleplaying Hogwarts in forums in my pre-teens, taking Harry Potter classes like Potions and doing homework, getting graded on it, and receiving housepoints. And then pretending my living room was the Ravenclaw dorm and pretending school was Hogwarts.
I remember dressing up as Bellatrix and going to the midnight movie premiere. I had an argument on our way with the person I was supposed to be going with so I wound up going on my own. Normally, I may have left and sought out a resolution. However, I stayed. Alone, in costume, feeling only ever-so-slightly ridiculous.
I read them and re-read them and re-read them. I always owned books I had yet to read but I continuously re-read Harry Potter. I remember being made fun of for being so obsessed. And for always having my nose in a book. And for re-reading them over and over again. I remember being told once that Harry Potter was evil witchcraft and children shouldn’t be reading them and I was appalled. How could something so wonderful and helpful and important to my youth be considered anything less? Could be considered.. evil. When it was the farthest thing from it. It highlighted, so perfectly, the war between good and evil. It showed normal human flaws. It mirrored the real world aside from the creatures and the magic and the very obvious fiction.
After high school, it seems people became more vocal about Harry Potter. Whether it was a mild interest or a large one. I became quieter and stifled the love and adoration I have for Harry Potter. I had always been protective of Harry Potter, I knew the kids in my grade in high school that were large Harry Potter fans and the ones who were only minor ones. When it seemed everyone started discussing it after high school or sharing memes, I always had this large desire to yell that they don’t even know how incredible Harry Potter is. The depths it breaches for some people. The amount of growth it has caused some people. Which was an unfair and a ridiculous egotistical flaw in my personality. So instead, I took a step back and let people love what obviously deserves all the love and recognition. In the smallest and largest forms.
When things were rough at home or at school or my parents were fighting, Harry Potter was my comfort, every single time. I found strength and friendship and love in those books. They helped me grow into the woman I am today and I am a woman I love and am proud of. JK Rowling, even now, inspires me to write and continue writing. There are few fandoms that make me this giddy. Harry Potter, The Tolkien Universe, and Star Trek. I love Star Wars, and Doctor Who and Sherlock yet they don’t have the same impact. I didn’t grow with them like I did the others. They didn’t shape me like they did the others. Something I am forever grateful to J.K. Rowling. For creating such characters that taught me the pros and cons of human characteristics and the potential consequences of our actions.
If anyone feels like sharing their own personal Harry Potter story, feel free to share in the comments on here, the blog, or by using the hashtag #myharrypotterjourney. What does Harry Potter mean to you? When did you find interest in it? How has it helped you?