No, this isn’t about the fanfic I wrote at the age of 14 where my self-inserted character was the great-great-great granddaughter of Dumbledore. Everybody I know has a story about how the Harry Potter series affected them; I have one too. This is the story of how the Boy Who Lived and his story have affected my childhood, my coming-of-age, and ultimately, my life. I thought this would be a good reflection posted on both J.K. Rowling’s and Harry Potter’s birthday. My love for the books, movies, toys, and video games is cemented in the past and future, forever and…always.
I was introduced to the series at the age of eight by a close childhood friend. I was originally worried I wouldn’t like it, for unknown reasons. I was also nervous that my religious mom wouldn’t let me read the books. I was immediately enraptured by the series, and I was so relieved when my mom wanted to read them, too! We would “race” our bookmarks throughout each book to see who would finish first. The series became a way we bonded.
Hooked on the series, I saw the first movie in theatres. As tradition, my mom took me to Toys R Us after the movie for one toy based on the movie we had seen. That day, my mom treated me and I got to pick two toys; a Harry Potter doll and a Hermione Granger doll. The dolls looked so hideous! Harry looked like Austin Powers, and Hermione looked nothing like herself. And I loved them. I remember Hermione came with a jelly-bean scented bracelet, and Harry came with a toy chocolate frog. Even now, when I smell the odor of cheap, manufactured, plastic chocolate, I think of those Harry Potter dolls and the beginning of my Harry Potter experience, and it warms my heart with nostalgia. I began collecting the HP stones that could be found at the local bookstore. I also remember the “Muggles for Harry Potter” movement to fight back against censorship; I had a button and wore it proudly. The button still sits on my bookshelf to this day.
My 10th birthday party had a Harry Potter theme. All guests were placed in the House they drew from the Goblet of Fire (we took some creative liberties!) and I drew Ravenclaw, wearing it proudly simply because I liked the color blue. We threw bean bag Snitches into a corn-hole board painted to look like Quidditch, and gained House Points based on other various games throughout the day. It is one of the most memorable birthdays I have had.
I will never forget the morning of my 11th birthday. I woke up early because I was always excited for my birthday. When I stood at the top of the stairs, I heard a rustling from the bottom of the stairs at the front door. I sat down, peeking around the corner, and watched as the mail slot creaked open, a letter falling onto the floor. I sat there for at least five minutes, soaking in the moment. Of course I knew that that was not my letter to Hogwarts, but I relished in the moment that it could have been. It turned out to be some birthday money from my Babcia (Polish grandmother) that I could spend at the zoo, but it was a memorable moment nonetheless. (I still find it funny that I went to the zoo on this particular birthday.)
This was the year that “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” was released. It was also when I found out that Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts on my birth month and day. I was so excited to see my birthday on the big screen!
This was also a year of tragedy. I grasped the sense of family in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to cope with my great-grandmother’s death the month before my Babcia died from cancer. I read it as my Babcia received chemotherapy, and I reread it as I sat next to her in the hospital, and after she had gone. I read that book at least three times. Sirius Black and Remus Lupin became family to the girl who felt like she was losing hers.
With the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, came the introduction of Luna Lovegood. She remains one of my favorite literary characters to this day.
Latching again onto the third story in the series, I would regularly play Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on the PlayStation 2 to cope with my abusive Pépère (French-Canadian grandfather). After finishing the game twice, I would just sit there for hours and fly around Hogwarts on Buckbeak.
This was the year that I went to my very first midnight book release for the last book in the series. I went with my mom to the local Barnes and Noble and wore a cape. They were serving their own recipe of Butterbeer.
I watched the very last movie five times in theatres. Each time, I brought my wand-pen and pointed it at the enemies during the Battle of Hogwarts. I sobbed at the ending every time. “Hedwig’s Theme” still makes me tear up when I hear it.
I wrote a paper for one of my college classes comparing and contrasting the heroism of Beowulf to the heroism of Harry Potter.
Between 1998 and 2004, my ballet school was my Hogwarts (especially with a different director every year, like the DADA classes). My pogo stick, and later my bike, was my Nimbus 2000.
I saw every movie in theatres at least once, and I reread the first and third books multiple times. I fantasized about attending Hogwarts and dreamed about hanging out with the characters. I memorized the lines, cuddled with Crookshanks, wrote in Harry Potter journals, and made memories I will never forget.
I am a fan. I am a Ravenclaw. I am a part of the Harry Potter generation.
Thank you, J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter. And happy birthday.
.@m_abs All these people saying they never got their Hogwarts letter: you got the letter. You went to Hogwarts. We were all there together.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 7, 2015