(image via weheartit)
I’m about to explain to you why the above image can almost bring me to tears. Why I didn’t speak to my husband for the entire travel day home from our honeymoon. Why I once ran into my 9th grade history teacher in a movie theater wearing a vivid scar on my forehead, and didn’t even have the grace to be embarrassed. I think you’ve probably guessed by now: The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.
I picked up the first book when I was a freshmen in high school. My mom had bought it and the 3rd in the series for my younger sisters in middle school. One of them was in the car, and I picked it up in a moment of boredom. I didn’t want to put it down, so I carried it in to read during the Superbowl (I watched for the commercials) and ended up finishing it in about two days. I was so excited that I jumped right into the third book, forced my two best friends to start the first, and had bought the missing Chamber of Secrets before the week was through. I was rabid for this plot, these characters, this world that was painstakingly crafted for me. I was completely hooked.
I remember calling my friends as they finished their copies and being frustrated at their polite and agreeable responses: “Yeah, that was good!” Did they not understand that our lives were forever changed? I can be a tad passionate with my new interests, and I was desperate to rant and rave with someone. I randomly typed a query into my AOL homepage (oh, ShortyFries15, I miss you…) and then they sprang up. Fan pages. Fanfiction pages. Countdowns to the release of book 4. Book 4?! More were coming?! Laugh if you need to, but I remember tears of sheer relief; there were other people who felt just like I did.
Through out the years, my obsession grew. For awhile, every gift I received was Potter-themed, especially as the books became more popular and the merchandising increased. I started writing fanfiction, and lived VICARIOUSLY through the lives of the characters I read/typed about. I had a website and a serial story. My friend Jen and I would call each other daily to discuss the new “fics” that had been posted on the different sites we followed. The release of the first movie was counted down to with disbelief (We’re going to SEE this take place in front of our eyes?!) but I never really got into the movies. The books, canon, and character authenticity became biblical to me. I read and reread the stories.
I went to college, met a wonderful man, moved in with him, and began planning a wedding. As I was growing up, Harry and his friends grew up, too. I swooned over the budding romance between Ron and Hermione, and over analyzed every line of dialog between them. I left my job as a waitress one evening and went on an adventure to find the midnight release party with the shortest line in order to get a hot-off-the-presses copy of the 6th book. Things were getting serious at Hogwarts, I told Ben gravely, with tears in my eyes. To his credit, he never outright laughed, but when the 7th book was released in the middle of our honeymoon roadtrip, he did ask that I not read it until our trip was done. Only newly-wedded bliss could have made me comply.
I bought my copy in a CVS in California, and hid it the bottom of my duffel until we arrived at LAX, the agreed time that I could begin. I sucked in every letter of every word, gasping and gulping and bumping into people because I never shut the book, not once. When I finished the epilogue and closed the book, I was on a different plane somewhere near Florida. Ben turned to me and eagerly asked, “So, what did you think?” I could not say a word. It was such a major moment that I wasn’t even ready for tears.
I still reread the books as my favorite form of comfort reading. I also am obsessed with Jim Dale’s performance on the audiobooks, and check them out of the library all the time. My favorite quotes can have tears bubbling up in just seconds; the books became deeper and more meaningful as Harry (and possibly Rowling’s readers?) became older. The last movie is coming out this year, and it looks…good? Like it might do justice to the heart-wrenching finale to the series? I don’t even need to get my hopes up, because no one can ever take away my seven favorite books of all time.
My mother once told me that she owed a lot to J. K. Rowling, and I asked her why. “Because,” she said, “she wrote the books that made you love reading again.” Yeah, she did.