Goodbye Harry Potter - A Love Story
Howdy folks! I've been on a once a week blog cycle this summer, and while I've certainly missed the catharsis involved in sharing my thoughts with you fine people on a more frequent basis, I must say it has alleviated some of the bulge in my 'to do' list. I'll get back to my regular 3-ish postings a week at some point, but to be honest I'm kind of enjoying stretching my legs a bit.
I previously posted about the runaway summer I've been having, and was relieved (in a morbid sinking ship kind of way) to see how many of you were experiencing a similar amount of 'nuts'. In conclusion, I think it's just the season to get distracted.
Perhaps the single biggest indication of just how much my time has gotten away from me this year was my delay in getting to the newest (and last) Harry Potter movie. You see, over the last 9 years I've managed to be at the theater on opening night for the previous 6 films. I missed the opening for the first film because I had no idea who or what a Harry Potter was, and I couldn't have told you the difference between a muggle and a mud cat. Ultimately, I decided the movie might be worth a shot after a couple of weeks worth of strong recommendations from friends and coworkers.
ONE NIGHT IN HOGWARTS ...
I can still remember that night vividly in my mind. The girl who would soon become my wife asked if I could make an evening showing after classes, and of course I agreed. In retrospect it was never really a decision, because 1) I was crazy about her and would have agreed to drive to the moon to fetch lemonade if she'd have asked it of me, and 2) I was--and still am--in love with the big screen too. I'll watch just about anything once.
I recall walking up to the theater holding her hand and suddenly letting it drop as I saw a line of a couple dozen people formed outside our tiny cinema. It was two weeks out from opening night and there were still droves of people (keep in mind we attended college in a VERY small town) lining up to watch it! "This must be some kind of story," I thought as we finally were allowed in to find a seat.
AN UNKNOWN LOVE
Backtracking a bit, you should know that I was not a big reader at that point in my life--at least not fiction. In my teens I'd become a pretty BIG fan of Stephen King and spent a fair amount of my time nose-in-book. Unfortunately, when I started college I put away the fun reads for textbooks. That trend continued all the way through grad school and the first Harry Potter film.
You should also know (for the sake of this story) that my wife and I were somewhat star-crossed in the love falling department. We first met in May of that year (2001), I asked her to marry me just shy of two months later. As we lay on her tiny dormitory bed listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sing a duet, the idea came to my mind that I'd never be able live another day without her, so I asked if she'd make sure that never happened. She thought I was joking, of course, but thankfully said yes.
That might sound crazy to you, and in hindsight I'd probably agree that it was, but there really wasn't much else for us to do BUT get married. I'm not exaggerating when I say that we had EVERYTHING in common. It was like we'd been walking on opposite sides of the same road our entire lives completely unaware that the other person was there. All of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of the road staring at each other. From that point on, continuing to wander that road alone no longer seemed like an option.
When Harry rolled around, I'd found the hidden love of my life only months before. Little did I know that I was about to rediscover a lost love, and gain a new one all in the same magical evening.
A MUGGLE NO MORE
"We have to get the books," my wife said on the drive home. The next day we had all four and began to tackle the hardest part of any relationship: sharing. Luckily she wanted to read the first one to see if the movie matched the book, and I was already eager to start the second to find out what happened next. Who knows, if she'd have wanted to start with book 2 we might not be celebrating our tenth anniversary next year!
I read the next 3 books in a week. I'm not a fast reader, and keep in mind that I hadn't read much of anything in the way of fiction in years. Suddenly I found myself in love with reading again, and all of it thanks to some kids' books about wizards. I also started to see some of the children I worked with at the counseling agency reading them. Naturally, I explored what value they were getting from them. Seems that these kids, many of whom had absolutely awful home lives, could really relate to this orphaned boy who was terribly mistreated by his adopted family. It was escapism of the highest importance, in my eyes.
That's when I decided I'd like to be able to write those kinds of stories. Stories that could make adults remember the fun of reading, and stories that could truly mean something for people without much else to hold on to.
A TEARFUL GOODBYE
Nearly ten years later, last night I once again clutched the girl's hand in a darkened theatre as we watched the opening credits of a new Harry Potter film. Only this time I knew it was the last. I squeezed her hand and asked, "You going to make it through this?" Only half-joking, because I knew what it meant for her as well.
We fell in love with Harry in much the same way we did with one another. It was instantaneous, inexplicably familiar and lasting. Our relationship has evolved with Harry, and so many of our fondest memories together have come at his wand. Staying up all night to purchase (and read) each new book, laughing at the costumes people wore to the theaters, snuggled together in blankets on rare free weekends to re-watch the movies, and hashing out the meanings and relevance of the books over countless dinners. That's not to mention the number of friends we've made just because we had a shared love of Mr. Potter.
Like so many others, to us Harry Potter has been much more than a book or film franchise. Harry Potter has been a companion in our lives. He has marked the passing of time and provided us with a lifetime of special moments to look back on. Trying my best to sum it up, I'd say Harry Potter has proven to me that sometimes the journey truly is the destination.