One 24 year-old male’s journey through 13 years of Harry Potter fandom.
This Friday officially marks the end of my prolonged childhood. On Thursday night at 12:01 I’ll make the transition from man-child to grown-up-pseudo-adult-still-living-at-home. I’ll be at a midnight showing of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II” bidding adieu to the wizarding world.
About 13 years ago my dad came back from Barnes and Noble with his usual attempt to trick me to read something other than Matt Christopher books. I still remember the cover’s illustration of a bespectacled dark haired kid wearing a cape and holding on to something that looked like a red peacock. He told me that the book was about a wizard, and without opening the front page immediately I thought it was lame. I was way too cool for magic—I played sports, got good grades, didn’t talk to girls and participated in Boy Scouts. Magic and witches was a girl thing – I wasn’t about to touch it with a stack of social studies books.
Eventually I opened that first page and started reading about this magical orphan Harry Potter. I read a couple chapters and I wasn’t hooked. “The Chamber of Secrets” sat on my book self for months until I picked it up again. In retrospect I find it hilarious that 6th grade me had the willpower to not read until physical exhaustion. But when I finally committed to reading the book I was immediately consumed by J.K. Rowling’s brilliant world and 13 years later I still am.
Because of a rather simple mistake by my dad, I ended up reading the “Chamber of Secrets” first and I moved on to the “Prisoner of Azkaban” before backtracking to “The Sorcerer’s Stone.” The original Potter novel was in paperback by the time I read the nearly perfect story of Harry’s first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. From the moment my dad came back from Barnes and Noble, till after I finished reading about Voldemort, Dumbledore, Nicholas Flamel and the elixir of life, about half the year had flown by.
I had taken for granted the fact the first three books were readily available at any local bookstore and hated that I had to wait for more magic. I grew to learn that the time in between Harry Potter books was purgatory; I was like a drug addict who desperately needed his fix. So I turned to my unbelievably slow dial-up Internet modem for respite. I became entrenched in rumors and predictions about book titles, characters that might die, and of course potential love interests.
It was around this time that I became obsessed with the idea of going to Hogwarts. Each night before I went to sleep I would consciously try and make my last thought about the famed school of witchcraft and wizardry so I could dream of playing Quidditch and roaming the castle halls. I found websites that would sort me into the school’s four houses, and I always rigged it so I’d be in Griffyndor, although the older I get the more I think I’m a Ravenclaw.
This is how I passed the time until “The Goblet of Fire” turned my literary life upside down. This was my first of many midnight Harry Potter extravaganzas where I was a solid five to seven years older than everyone else.
I remember thinking about the preposterous size of the book behind the counter, but unlike Dickens novels I was never intimidated by the number of pages. I tore through it in less than a week. The epic plot combined with arguably the best twist in the entire series made my head spin. I re-read it immediately. This became a trend, to this day I’ve probable read each book at least three times.
At the time I never once considered Harry Potter’s adventures being transferred to the silver screen. Hell, this was the first book I read without wondering if a movie could speed up the process. When news spread that Warner Brothers acquired the rights to all seven books I was excited, but I thought it would be impossible to recreate the magic on film. Boy was I wrong.
So when no one else was around I would scour websites like Mugglenet, Hargid’s Hut, Leaky Cauldron and HPANA to find out the latest casting choices for all the fictional characters that existed in my mind and millions of others. I remember secretly and desperately practicing a God-awful British accent in hopes of submitting a casting tape. I remember thinking I was perfect to play Lee Jordan, and then I realized he was black with dreadlocks and I’m not. Then I thought I could be Cedric Diggory – a role that went to a relatively unknown smug bastard by the name of Robert Pattinson.
I could go on forever about how I’ve been listening to Hedwig’s theme the entire time I’ve been writing this. I could talk about how I cried during the last book, or how I vividly remember reading “The Order of the Phoenix” on the drive to Queens to see my beloved Mets play the Yankees at Shea Stadium. I could even get into the possibility that I have a Hermione costume fetish.
But I figured this article was damning enough as is.
I’ve grown up with Harry Potter, through grammar school, high school, and college. The books offered me an escape from pimples, awkwardness, and the fact I once wore Aeropostale. Whether I was skating in roller blades or driving slightly too fast in my dad’s Nissan Maxima I was still reading Harry Potter (not at the same time). From the innocent days of Sipps juice boxes to forgettable nights of gin and tonics I’ve always been mildly obsessed with a children’s book about magic. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.