Harry Potter, Always

I’ve been trying to find the most logical way to start this tribute, but I keep stumbling over my words. You see, Harry Potter has been a part of my life for most of my life. In fact, it’s been one of the biggest parts.

While the Philosopher’s Stone first released in the UK June 26, 1997, we had to wait more than a year before it came to the States. Even then, I didn’t immediately read it. I remember my neighbor had it and we would pretend it was a spell book and we were witches because we were vaguely aware it was about magic.

No, I didn’t read the book until I was in third grade. It was then everything for me changed. At this point, the first three books were published and I couldn’t stop. I remember staying up late at my dad’s house, sitting in my grandpap’s chair and reading by lamp to finish the Prisoner of Azkaban. I was trembling at the reveal at the end, completely blown away. To use the language of today, it was the first time I was shook from a book.

Me wearing a Hogwarts shirt and Hedwig coat on the way to watch The Chamber of Secrets in theaters

For two years I anxiously awaited my letter for Hogwarts, sure that a book that felt so real HAD to be real. When the movies were announced, I remember being concerned with getting the details right, and even as a child worried they would screw it up.

When the first movie came out, I dressed up as Hermione Granger and borrowed a snowy owl puppet from my Gifted teacher to make the look authentic. We did an after school week focused on Harry Potter and I kept the wand and felt hat we made for years.

Countless hours were spent online learning everything I could about the world of Harry Potter, including frequenting sites like Mugglenet where I printed a list of spells so I could remember what they did. I even started a fan club at school where I made quizzes and everything for my friends to prove they were real fans.

I remember the excruciating wait between books four and five. The first four were published so close together but we had to wait three more years for the next one. It’s funny – when the Order of the Phoenix came out I was only 12, but it doesn’t feel like it’s been almost 15 years. I don’t think I was that young, but clearly I was.

It would take four more years until the last book was published and I spent the time re-reading the series and re-watching the movies and convincing myself it couldn’t end, not really. They marketed the last book with Snape as friend or foe and I remember being so confident he would turn out to be good. The Deathly Hallows is a masterpiece that is equal parts tragic and triumphant.

I read the final book in 24 hours. A literal 24 hours, through the day and night

When I saw the final movie in theaters, many stood and applauded, but I couldn’t move because I realized I had nothing else to look forward to in the Harry Potter series. But I knew the series would always live on.

Harry Potter is more than just a series of books. For many, it was a way to cope with trauma or assault. Others saw it as an escape into a world so unimaginable but also so real. To me it was always like going home.

Hanging out where I actually should live

I grew up with Harry Potter. The final book came out when I was about to turn 17, the same age as Harry Potter in Deathly Hallows. He was like a constant companion and source of strength. Hermione Granger showed me it was okay to be smart and is a character I appreciate more and more with every re-read.

To this day I can’t pick a favorite and I know I haven’t found all the connections. Every time I read a book, I learn something new. I find something that didn’t make sense until this time. I’m never bored when I watch or read the stories I know so well.

I can quote most of the Sorcerer’s Stone movie mostly because I had a PC game that corresponded with the movie. Just ask me to do the Sorting Hat’s speech. Do it.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of my favorite places because it feels like, if only for a moment, I’ve actually entered the world I grew up longing to see. I can go to Zonko’s and Ollivander’s and drink Butterbeer. I can experience real magic when you enter Diagon Alley through the secret entrance.

DIAGON ALLEY

I still have a collection of Harry Potter items on display. Some are toys I’ve had since childhood and others were acquired on trips to the theme park. There are photos of me through the ages wearing different types of Harry Potter merchandise, sometimes embarrassingly so. I still own and proudly wear Harry Potter clothing.

But tbh I’m not proud of these Hedwig overalls with the Gryffindor shirt underneath

I have a Harry Potter tattoo.

I even include ‘excellent Harry Potter knowledge’ on my resume.

When people get to know me, a few things become evident. 1) this girl is a Christian (hopefully) 2) she really loves her nieces 3) man is she obsessed with Harry Potter

Let’s be honest, there are worst identifiers.

Happy Anniversary, Harry Potter. Thank you for continuing to bring magic into my life.

After all this time?

Always.

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