Monday, June 26, 2017

Happy Birthday, Harry: Thoughts and Feelings and Glasses Raised


“…there will be books written about Harry—every child in our world will know his name!”
--Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Ch. 1

Let the record show that in the book, Hagrid spelled everthing correctly



(Fun story: I own thirteen copies of this book, and all the covers in this post are from the editions I own. Yes, I have a problem, and by problem I mean not a problem at all)

Happy birthday, Harry, my eternal bae (as the kids say, aka the people who, unlike me, weren't alive when the Muggle world was first blessed by the arrival of one Harry James Potter). I reread this whole book today in your honor. It's about my eleventy billionth reread, but it's been years since I treated myself to a full Potter readthrough.



All my life, the Wizarding World has been my refuge. I used to sink into the whimsy and bustle and peril of Hogwarts regularly as a kid and as a teen for comfort, for entertainment, for nostalgia, to hunt for clues (because, of course, I am an ancient member of the original generation, and I remember what it was like to WAIT between BOOKS for ANSWERS because <i>we didn't knowww</i> and there was no Tumblr to spoil us). Every excursion into a Harry Potter book is a treat, and every time I submerge I discover more bits and bobs about the world. Every time I hang out with them, the characters carve themselves in my soul a little more deeply. Trite as it is (and this is already a disgusting amount of sentiment, someone cough up some slugs to kill the mood), reading a Harry Potter book is just pure magic.



I met Harry when I was in the first grade. Harry Potter wasn't a phenomenon yet--or, more accurately, it probably was somewhere outside the confines of my elementary school, but being a wee six-year-old more concerned with Beanie Babies and whether I could successfully trade my Doritos for Bugles at recess, I didn't know about it. Harry Madness hadn't swept the States yet, at any rate, and nobody I knew had read them. I can picture this so vividly in my mind, but I came home from school to find a bunch of new books spread on my bed--my mom used to do this for me as a treat--and one of boasted had shining, gold, lightning-bolt letters and a boy on on a broomstick, so of course I picked that one up first.

Dramatic Narrator: (lightning flashes, thunder booms) And she was never the same...


(oof, are these hideous)

My mom probably regretted this, since I spent the entire experience pelting her with questions like "How do you pronounce Herm-ee-own?". I even did my first grade, end-of-year book report on Sorcerer's Stone. I drew the final climax in vivid colored pencil, Harry tied up and struggling in the bowels of the castle as evil Quirrel and his Terrible Turban stand before the Mirror of Erised.

My childhood arranged itself into "Summers I got to read a new Harry Potter book" and "all those other months and years I spent thinking about a new Harry Potter book". I remember where I was when I read every release for the very first time--on the bus to summer camp, in a hotel room in the dead of night, on a couch in my family friends' house, ignoring the ACTUAL PARTY occuring twelve feet away, and--hilariously--on a park bench in the middle of one of the most famous landmarks in the world, ignoring the once-in-a-lifetime views.
(I bought all four) (DO NOT JUDGE ME) (Ravenclaws are birds and we like SHINY THINGS)
I became a devotee of the original, hilariously creaky Harry Potter website, a Stone Age Pottermore. My friend and I, in the fourth grade, wrote our own Witch Weekly "magazine" on my family's clunky old desktop (made of dull beige plastic with a MOUSE with a ROLLY BALL, kiddies, and the internet used to SCREAM AT YOU as it slowly, groaningly connected and there were popups and oh god, Ye Olden Tymes are not always so rosy).

I didn't know that fan fiction was a thing, because remember, this was the Stone Age, so I made it up. I doodled pencil portrairs of Hermione (my sister in soul) in my cow-spotted notebooks, covered in Lisa Frank stickers, and let absolutely NO ONE see them.

And in those spaces where I wasn't rereading HP or aching for a new HP or making my own HP crosswords for the masterpiece that was the latest edition of Witch Weekly (no, seriously), I devoured every other book I could in the interim, and discovered such wonderful things as A Little Princess and Ella Enchanted and Tamora Pierce and Betsy-Tacy and all the American Girl books.
yeah, okay, this one you can judge me for
I'm not saying I wouldn't have become a reader, a fangirl, an artist, or a writer if it weren't for Harry entering my life when he did, but, well, it certainly wouldn't have happened as dramatically, or as soon. From age six to sixteen, Harry and I grew up together, fighting monsters (very different kinds, of course) side by side. And, well, since I handle open sentiment about as well as Ron Weasley does, I'll just end by gruffly saying that through all the toughest times in my life (including this one), The Boy Who Lived, and all the strong, triumphant, funny, real people who fight beside him without giving up, have always been there for me. AND NOW I'M CRYING LIKE A WET CRYING THING. ARGH. *eats a Canary Cream, turns into a Canary, successfully distracts you*

...he couldn't know that at this moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: 'To Harry Potter--the boy who lived!"
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Ch. 1

SO. *raises butterbeer* *well actually it's coffee but LET US PRETEND* To Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived (still my eternal bae)



2 comments:

  1. YES YES YES thank you for making me feel like less of a weirdo for still being completely obsessed with Harry Potter. I don't yet have thirteen copies of Sorcerer's Stone but I AM ON MY WAY.

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  2. Soooo this post was UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL. I am incredibly impressed by how many copies you have! I have two. One is the illustrated big edition with pictures by Jim Kay and I actually haven't been through it properly yet -- I'm waiting for my next reread. I CAN'T WAIT. It's been over three years since I last read them and I'm not sure what I'm doing with my life. This Christmas, I've made myself a promise ...

    The characters are just so incredible. They really do feel like my best friends. Hermione is so wonderful. I mean she is SO wonderful. She's taught me what it means to be a Gryffindor. And everyone is amazing?? And the world?? These books just give you what you need every single time you read them.

    Gosh.

    Turn me into a canary, quick!

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