Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Memorium

Kids, I’ve been telling you the story of how I suck at dating, and while there are many things to learn from these stories, this may be the biggest. The great loves of your life won’t necessarily be the people you date, they’ll also be the people who happen to you. Now, I’m not saying you can’t take action to affect the outcome of your love life, you have to take action and you will. But never forget that on any day, you can step into a classroom door and your whole life can change forever. You see, the universe has a plan, kids, and that plan is always in motion. An owl flaps its wings, and it starts to snow. It's a scary thought but it's also kind of wonderful. All these little parts of the machine constantly working, making sure that you end up exactly where you're supposed to be with, exactly when you're supposed to be there. The right place at the right time.[1]

I met the greatest love of this quarter of my life when I was twelve. What’s funny about this story is that, initially, I didn’t even know he existed. When he finally did catch my attention, I didn’t like him much at all. You see, as a middle-schooler, I was forever preoccupied with what is cool, and Harry Potter certainly wasn’t cool. He hung out with that kid (you know the one I’m talking about—the pale-as-milk kid who made his own armor and went around talking about “vorpal blades” going “snicker-snack”) and I didn’t want to associate with anyone who associated with him, less I lose whatever meager hall-cred I’d gained by smart-mouthing the World Religions teacher.
Sidebar: I later apologized profusely and begged in secret for him not to make me come to early-morning “Religion Club,” aka detention, lest my parents ground me forever…I was only a wannabe snark back then.
However, over Easter break, after some prodding from my sister, I decide to give Harry a chance—I could at least talk to the guy. Maybe we could be friends.

One conversation. That was all it took for me to be hooked. Suddenly, it didn’t matter if Harry wasn’t perceived as “cool” by the other kids at school; all I wanted was to talk with him again—he was that enchanting. I was exactly like a googly-eyed tween: I replayed (and reread) our first real meeting over and over in my mind, picking up on new things to love, little idiosyncrasies and quirks that made him all the more adorable. I wanted to dive into his skin and live there awhile, just to see what it was like to live in his world.
The more I got to know him, the deeper I fell. Even then I had a feeling that this was no “baby crush” or “blip” on my emotional radar—I was in for the long haul, and our story would play out for years to come.

And it did. After the first blush of our hopeful beginning, things did cool down a bit. I got busy, and didn’t have as much time for him anymore. But he was always there for me, whenever I was lonely, or feeling sad or homesick—he’d find a way to cheer me up, telling me all his old tales again.

The summer between eighth grade and freshman year, I went off to Camp Takatoka. I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to hang out with Harry while I was gone, especially because I knew that he had some crazy stories to tell me—his life, as it turned out, was an unending saga—but I dealt. My dad teased me with a letter in which he hinted at some of Harry’s wild adventures—something about an old derelict house and a prickly groundskeeper.
Sidebar:  My dad and Harry were actually friends too, which some people might think is weird, but whatevs. I think his spirit reminded my dad of an old friend of his from college named Frodo…
Naturally, I was annoyed that I wasn’t able to hear these new stories firsthand, but I was sneaky, and figured out a way to get a hold of him before my parents picked me up from camp. Let’s just say, it involved some bribery, and lots of staying up late trying to hide the light from my flashlight under the covers.
When I finally did make it back home, I was astounded to see the change in him. All my seventh grade worries about his scant popularity were put to shame. He’d changed over the summer, and suddenly, everyone wanted to be his friend, drawn to him because of his magnetic personality and captivating story-telling abilities. People were literally lined-up around the block to meet him. Harry was everywhere.
But, still, he didn’t forget about me. He was there when I didn’t get the part I wanted, or in the eerily quiet hours that followed after my sisters and their families went back home after Christmas. Sometimes, there are people in your life who just feel like coming home, and that’s how Harry felt to me.
I continued to support Harry in his newfound stardom. I went to all of his big release events, waiting in line with countless others whose lives he’d touched, and eventually, when Hollywood decided to make a sprawling, eight-part movie about his life, I went and saw all of those too.
Which brings me to my point. Back when I was twelve, I had no idea that a paperback that an odd classmate of mine carried around school about some boy wizard with a lightning bolt on his forehead would lead me to one of the greatest love stories of my life. I don’t love Harry Potter just because I love to read, or because there are spells and magical creatures, or because anytime a new book or movie is released, I have an excuse to play dress-up (though that is a definite plus). I love it because in those hours I spend with Harry, I find myself completely immersed in a world that is my own and not my own, with characters that have become as familiar to me as old friends. Over the past twelve years, The Boy Who Lived has taught me valuable lessons about friendship, truth and goodness; that what is right isn’t always necessarily what is easy, and that it’s not about what you can do, but what you choose to do with your life that matters, and that one should make love, not horcruxes.
Tonight marks the end of an era then. Some may think it’s silly to get emotional over the end of a movie franchise, but in so many ways, I feel like I’m saying goodbye to that old friend. The release of this last movie closes the book of my childhood in a way.
Sidebar: Yes, I know that as a twenty-four year old, I hardly qualify as a child anymore. Shhhh. I’m sentimental. Plus, there's no reason to dress up anymore, unless they start screening midnight showing of HP at the Landmark like they do Rocky Horror...oooooh, lightbulb!
So, heres to you, Harry! May you join the ranks of Alice and Peter, the Pevensie’s and the hobbits, Sara Crewe and Mary Lennox, and all the other characters throughout history that have managed to captivate children and adults alike, and go on to inspire countless fanfics in which shippers desperately try to pair Draco and Ginny.

Tonight, I'll be right where I'm supposed to be, at the midnight premiere, donning my Hogwarts' best and choking down Red Vines, ready to cheer you on to the end!
Okay, I don’t know about you, but I could go for some pumpkin juice and a chocolate frog right about now…

[1] I did not write most of this introduction, but merely adapted the cold open of Episode 22, Season 4 of (what else) “How I Met Your Mother.”


  1. Such a dork. Love it.

    -Colin Craven

    Mark is a tool.

  2. I just saw someone walk past my office window wearing a Hogwarts rode. Totally styling...

  3. E,

    "She's Ron's sister.
    But she's ditched Dean!
    She's still Ron's sister.
    I'm his best mate!
    That'll make it worse.
    If I talked to him first-
    He'd hit you.
    What if I don't care?
    He's your best mate!"

    Now that would be a fun guest blog...


  4. I liked the slight change in direction. Although I do not question your ability, I wonder if you can conjure a post of fiction as well as and to go with all of this folly that has proceeded it.

    I was pleasantly surprised you did it in microcosm here. I will toast to the ability of a good story to stoke the fires of a good storyteller. The world is always short of those types, you know.