Meet Harry Potter. He and his friends defined my life for a great many years. I can’t tell you how many hours my imagination spent at Hogwarts running around with that lot. They were wonderful magical hours that helped me wile away the awkward years of my adolescence in happy naivete. Where I could be the chosen one, could be the smartest person at school, could be the loyal best friend, could be the loony one that everyone loved despite themselves. Where I could take on the world and succeed.
Looking back, they aren’t the most stunningly crafted works of fiction out there. No one would attempt to compare them to Austen or Shakespeare. But they are delightful accessible works that accomplish what they are supposed to. I remember when I read the first book that I thought was better than Harry Potter, it was a rather shocking experience. But you know what, I don’t remember what the book was. It might have been a more compelling and better written fantasy novel (because that was about all I read back then), but it didn’t have the same impact on my life.
The Harry Potter books were a brilliant escape. I’m not sure if they will ever have the same effect on me that they did when I was younger. I no longer wish for a Hogwarts letter in the mail or a broomstick for Christmas (though ours is getting rather grungy, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a new one). But as I sat in the theater last week to watch a different movie and the preview for Harry Potter came on, an excitement bubbled up inside of me that I could barely contain. No literally, I was bouncing up and down in my seat and grasping the arm rests tightly. And this is nothing compared to what happens in my apartment when my 19-20 year-old roommates and I get started. Squealing and jumping up and down does occur.
What is it that makes a bunch of grown adults still feel strongly enough about an iconic figure that they will create a costume, pre-buy tickets, re-read the books, and lose sleep to watch a premier at midnight in the middle of the week when they have classes, work, tests and papers to do the next day? It’s unlike anything else I’ve been apart of, except maybe the church, but that’s a different kind of energy, a more reverent kind.
I think the reason is that Harry Potter represents everything amazing about our teen years. We grew up with the trio, and so in a way their ups and downs equal our ups and downs. They struggled, but they came out on top–better people for the struggle. Much like we see ourselves as we exit our turbulent teen years and venture into the big wide world, no longer whiny Harry , overbearing Hermione, or insecure Ron, but strong independent accomplished leaders.
Harry Potter will forever be a part of who I am, and I’m not sorry for it. I’m proud. Proud enough to rat my hair tonight and predict the deaths of all my closest friends. And it will be a lovely night because of it.