Thursday, July 14, 2011

Welcome home

This is a guest post from my friend Kathleen, a fellow writer with whom I worked at a newspaper back in Massachusetts.

Friends and family had told me about the Potter series since the books came out and I laughed at them because I thought they were “children’s books.”  My best friend, Ellie, was a particularly big fan of the series. I forgave her this grievous misstep only because she was my best friend. Until she pointed out that Alan Rickman was in the movies. I tried to get the DVDs from her but she said that I would only get a movie when I had finished the corresponding book.  

I grumbled about it until a few chapters into Sorcerer’s Stone I realized it was time for me to sleep. “I’ll go to bed after the next chapter,” I said. I finished The Sorcerer’s Stone in one sleep deprived night. It took me 10 days to read all the books up to Half Blood Prince. During which I caught only a few hours of sleep, called out of work, and skipped class. I honestly forgot the movies even existed. Also, by then, I was a bigger fan of Snape than Alan Rickman.

As a writer I was in awe of JK Rowling’s ability to create an entire universe that had me hoping my owl got lost on its way to New Hampshire.  The characters weren’t just three dimensional; they were my friends, my family.  Sirius’ death in Order of the Phoenix upset me so much I drove across town to see Ellie at her work, my face swollen with tears, clutching the book to my chest. (Don’t even get me started on Deathly Hallows. My poor boyfriend is going to the midnight showing with me, he is on Kleenex duty.) The reactions we had to each part of the story are all due to Joe’s gift for storytelling. The stories inspire me every day to write and keep writing because she was my age when she started scribbling notes on diaper pads, notes that turned into one of the greatest novels of all time.

What Harry Potter represents to me most of all is the permission to be a kid, no matter how old you are. This is what makes reading the books and being a fan such an amazing experience. Fans waiting in line for books argue about who was the best character; discuss what their patronus would be, and which house they would be a part of. We craft beautiful original works of art and write fanfiction that is good enough to grace the shelves of Barns and Noble. 

I cannot talk about the Potter fandom without mentioning the amazing friendships I have made as a result of this series. My love of Harry Potter has helped me build bonds with people all over the world, some I consider my best friends.

I have been very sad for the past month because the movies are coming to an end and with it the end of fresh Potter material. A few weeks ago I met someone who liked Harry Potter in the grocery store and we stood for about an hour talking as if we had known each other our entire lives. That’s when I realized, the story never really ends; all of us keep it alive.  Like Joe said during the London Deathly Hallows premier, “whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” 

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