A post I wrote on tumblr on the day of the release of the final Harry Potter movie (July 14, 2011)
I remember the first time I picked up a Harry Potter book…
I was in first grade. I tagged along with my mom on a visit to the house of one of her friends down the street in my old neighborhood. I was 6 years old, very curious, and very bored. I started wandering around the house and stumbled upon one of my favorite things in the world: a bookshelf. And there right in front of me in the middle of the row was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. To this day, I’m not sure what made me reach out for it. It didn’t stand out. It was a bit disheveled, off to one side. But for some reason, I chose it. I took it from the shelf, sat down with my back against the wall, opened it up and began to read. Two hours later, my mom came looking for me. Time to go. But I was hooked. And I refused to leave the book. My mom’s friend told me it used to be her daughter’s but since she was away at college, I was welcome to take it home and finish it. By the next morning, I had not only finished it but had persuaded my mom to take me to the bookstore to get the second one. There were only two books out at the time.
Now I am 19 years old. I have stood in line outside bookstores at midnight for the release of every new book since the Prisoner of Azkaban. I have dressed up as Hermione more times than I can count. I went every last Friday of the month to the Harry Potter Book Club at Barnes and Nobles for two years when I was 10. I cried on my 11th birthday when I didn’t get my letter. When the movies came out, I dreamt of being cast and pestered my mom to take me and my sister to see them a thousand times. When the final book was published, I stayed up all night reading and spent the rest of the day in mourning. When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened so close to my house, I put up with the summer heat and the three hour drive to Orlando to walk through the streets of my childhood. Now I’m the one who buys the books in Spanish for my mom. Now I drive myself to the premieres and the theme park. And now, with the release of the final movie, with my entire life from when I was six years old revolving around this fandom, it’s finally time to say goodbye.
So here’s to JK Rowling. And the Golden Trio. And to Hogwarts and all the people in it. And to the wonderful world of magic. Thank you. We may be saying goodbye, but it’s not over. “Whether you return by film or by page, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
It’s been five days since I went to the Harry Potter studio tour and I still get emotional every time I think about it. What these books have done for me, what they mean to me, what they’ve taught me, what they make me feel… it’s indescribable. It sounds silly to be so hung up over something like this but when I think of my childhood, I think of Harry Potter. When I think of why I am who I am today, more than half the reasons are attributed to Harry Potter. Even now, years later, when I pick up my very first copy of The Sorcerer’s Stone, I feel the chills emanating from my fingertips, slowly spreading until my entire body feels alive with magic. The magic of words. The magic of another world. The magic of bravery and friendship and life and death. The magic of Harry Potter.
These past few days, I’ve been feeling pretty nostalgic about that era of my life. When all I looked forward to was staying up until midnight to buy the newest release then staying up all night reading only to bring it to school the next day, half-asleep, and read it again. And then when the films started coming out and my sister and I made strategic plans on the exact time to get to the theater so we would be in the exact place in line to choose the exact best seats for the midnight showing. When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando, just a few hours away from me, and we woke up at 6am to take a day trip on the hottest day in July just to walk the streets of Hogsmeade. When I stayed up all night in my cousin’s house in Venezuela, following JK Rowling’s clues and hints, following the owl, answering the questions, until I finally made it onto Pottermore as a beta tester. And then, even though it was 4 in the morning, not being able to sleep because I had to find out what House I was in (Gryffindor, btw). All of these things flashed in my mind last Friday and again when I sat down to upload all the pictures playing the soundtrack as I scrolled through each one.
There’s never going to be anything else like Harry Potter. I’m never going to stop reading them. They are never going to stop influencing my life. When I have children, these books will be their bedtime stories. Harry will become their best friend, their confidante, their inspiration, just like he was mine. When they turn 11, I’ll buy them their own set along along with a personalized Hogwarts letter, and I’ll take them to the Wizarding World and they’ll walk down that cobblestoned street they’ve been dreaming about. I’ll buy them a wand, and maybe a robe or two. And maybe… if they end up loving it as much as I do, they’ll do the same with their children. And my grandchildren will ask me what it was like to grow up with Harry and was I really at all the midnight releases and show me your homemade wand again yeah the one you made out of a plastic hanger and scotch tape. And I’ll smile and answer their questions and tell them my stories. And the magic will never end.