“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore
11 years, 7 books, and officially now 7 movies later, the Harry Potter phenomenon as we know it is about to come to an end by the middle of next year. I was a sophomore in high school when my mom recommended to me the very first Harry Potter book. Her description of a tale of witches and wizards that exist in a fantasy world parallel to our own did very little to grab my attention. I mean, c’mon, Mom. I’m 15 and that kind of fantasy stuff isn’t my thing. And certainly I’m too old to read a kids’ book, right? Wrong. I gave it a go. I read the first while I was away at basketball camp for a week. I soon found myself excited to get back to my room just so I could find out what was about to happen next to my three new friends! By the end of the week, I’d finished the book and much to my dismay, absolutely loved it. I came home and told my mom a teenager’s least favorite words, “You were right”. But hearing from her there were two other books already out there in the series took some of the sting away.
I quickly devoured the next two books. After some cajoling, I convinced a few friends of mine to try them and they soon became hooked also. We were fifteen years old. These three characters were starting their adventures at Hogwarts just as my friends and I were beginning high school. We had a common ground of experiencing the unfamiliar. Over Thanksgiving of my junior year the first Harry Potter movie was released, and it was somewhat magical to see this vivid world brought to life in front of you. And then the second movie was released over Thanksgiving of my senior year. The fourth book was also released.
Off to college my friends and I went, and the fifth and sixth book were released along with the third and fourth movie. New friends and old would talk about what they thought was coming in the next few books, and who we thought the very mysterious R.A.B. was. Who would live? Who would die? Would anyone be left standing by the end?
Graduate school acceptance, college graduation, and a cross country move later, and the seventh book was finally released. The fifth and sixth movies were as well. The final book was released just as I was finishing up my summer semester at graduate school and I was forced to stash the book in my car trunk so as not to be distracted from my final exams and papers. About three weeks later, I could finally dive in and get all the answers to my questions that were almost a decade in the making. Shock, sorrow, comfort, and elation all perfectly describe the final book.
The first part of the final book’s movie was released this past weekend, and being the sentimental person I am, I looked back to where I was when the characters all entered my life and where I am now. I’m eleven years older, and have gone from a nerdy little sophomore to a (still) nerdy young adult. I’ve been through high school, college, and grad school. I’ve made new friends, and lost some old ones. I’ve learned more about myself and about life in general than I would have anticipated. I’ve had to learn how to both take and relinquish control of things, the latter of which I still struggle with. But just as I’ve watched these characters grow and change and come out victorious, I’ve done the same. I haven’t saved the world from a cosmically-evil force, but I’ve survived the loss of friends, I’ve survived overwhelming amounts of stress, I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at, and I’ve made some amazing new friends along the way.
My friends and I have grown up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and I look forward to the day that my kids can do the same with them.