Friday, 15 July 2011

Good-bye, Old Friend


For me it started Christmas 2001. My sister was a senior in high school, I was in second grade and 7 for only a month. September 11 still hung over our heads, a constant threat of things to come. I'm also pretty sure this was the Christmas we lost power. A blizzard was raging outside, so my dad had to go to work. Just me, my mom, my sister and a fireplace for warmth.

But before any of that happened, we swapped presents. My sister got me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Told me she'd heard a lot of people loved it, it was gonna be a huge thing and the first movie had just been released. My mom and I would still read books together, so she thought it'd be a good book for us to read. I wasn't interested, never having been interested in books like it. I thanked her and put it on my bookshelf.

Months pass and I'm looking for a new book to read with my mom. I pull out the little paperback I'd gotten at Christmas and my mom says we might as well give it a shot. By time we get to Harry's first quidditch match, we own the DVD. We decide we'll only watch up until that part of the book, but I beg her to let us keep watching, just a little longer. Then suddenly the movie's over and something's different. We have to keep reading the book. We have to read all the books. We need to see the next movie. Why did we wait so long to read this?

We blow through the rest of the book and my mom buys the next three books. We go see the second movie in theaters. We were never big movie people, so we don't rush it.

Suddenly, we're out of books. Out of movies. I'm eight years old and we're moving into a new house soon. My mom's always tired from the stress of trying to sell a house and buy a house and working and our time reading together isn't as easy.

June 22, 2003. My mom picks up two copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix so we can both read at our own pace. At 8 and a half, I'm not quite as busy or as tired as my mom is. Even though I've read ahead and know what happens, we continue working through it together.

That September we finally move into our current house. A month later my mom tells me she's pregnant. Shortly after, our reading time stops because she falls asleep before I do. I turn 9 years old. My little brother's born exactly 6 months later. The wait for the next book seems endless.

My mom and I start a habit of going to see the movies the first Saturday showing after the release. It's always early enough that few people are there, the parking lot at the mall's pretty empty, it's just easier. I don't think we saw Prisoner of Azkaban right away though, since my brother was born like 2 weeks before the release. We might've waited a little longer that year. 

I start middle school. Realize that people suck. Contemplate suicide. Almost try it once then stop myself because I don't want my brother not to know his sister. Find a new best friend that gets me through that level of hell. 

Then on July 17, 2005, my mom and I go out and pick up two copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that she pre-ordered for us. I probably started reading in the car while she drove and pouted at me because I got to start already. 

November 19, 2005. My 12 birthday's three days later. We get up early and go see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

July 12, 2007. We go see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I've finally finished middle school and get ready to go on to the "secondary school." for eighth and ninth graders. Two months after this, I find the Twilight series and devour the first three books, obsess over them. But Harry Potter still triumphs.

By now, we have all the extra books (like Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). The Tales of Beedle the Bard joins in 2008 and is quickly devoured.

July 2009 was a big month. I'm finally going to high school. On the 16, my mom and I go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in theaters. On the 22, my mom and I drive to Barnes and Noble and pick up two pre-ordered copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This time, I definitely started reading in the car while she drove and pouted. 

By 3 am on the 23, I had finished reading Harry Potter. I was 14 years old, yet I'd gone through the journey with Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. I didn't cry, but my eyes did tear up (maybe because it WAS 3 am and I'd been up since 8). I watched my mom read, slowly. Watched her go through boxes of tissues starting with the first death. We discussed the book when she finally finished. Talked about our favorite parts, the saddest deaths, what we'd do know that the series was over. We still had two movies to look forward to. And shortly after she started reading Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse series and I dived further into YA.

November 20, 2010. I turn 16 in two days. My mom and I go to the first Saturday showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. We go to the Mexican restaurant that's just outside the movie theater and we love dearly and discuss the movie. Discuss how they next movie will go. Wonder why it's release is so far away when it's already released. Wonder what we'll do after.

And now it's July 15, 2011. Tomorrow morning I'll get up, probably at 8 or 9 am, and go to the mall with my mom. We'll sit and watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. From what I've heard, we'll probably cry. A lot. Then we'll go out for Mexican and talk about the movie.

And then...what?

It's not the end of our movie days, not yet. I'm slightly ashamed to admit it, but we'll probably go see the Breaking Dawn movies together. But that's just not the same.

I was 7 when we started the journey. We lived in a trailer and I played with the kids in the street during summer and sled down the hill the neighborhood dogs used as their toilet during winter. My older brother was finishing high school with his dad. The same dad my sister thought died on September 11. My sister had probably finished applying to colleges. My mom worked from home most days and could bring me to work if she didn't. We had one cat that my mom and sister despised and two rottweilers that everyone couldn't help but love.

I'm going into my senior year of high school, approaching my 17 birthday, and know what colleges I'm applying to. My sister is now 27 and living in Arizona, hoping to move back east soon. My brother is living in Florida, working. Both are estranged from their dad. My dad no longer works for that branch of the town, but has a more grueling schedule working on a golf course. My mom doesn't work from home anymore, now she works whatever job is needed for a company. I now have a little brother I dreamed of when I was younger, though sometimes it seems like I'm his third parent. We live in a house on a main road with a pool in the backyard. We have two cats and two dogs. Only one of the cats is the same.

I extend my most sincere thanks to J.K. Rowling and everyone that made it possible for the books and movies to reach the public. 

Thank you for making a reader keep reading. My mom and I would've kept reading together, but what would we have read? What would've kept us so entertained? What would've made me love reading the way Harry Potter did? I don't remember many books from my childhood. I remember Dr. Seuss when I was very young. I remember Roald Dahl books. I remember the Shel Silverstein poetry that connected me and my sister. I remember A Little Princess. But Harry Potter's what sticks out in my head as a book I read with my mom.

Thank you for connecting a mother and daughter in the way most mother's dream of. I've never said I hated my mom. I've never cursed her out or screamed at her. We've disagreed and there were times I've thought I hated her until I realized hatred's too strong a feeling and really I'm just angry at her. We conspire together to raise my brother, and we include my dad when he's awake and not in pain. On Friday nights we sit together and watch girls put on ridiculous wedding dresses and comment on them. She's not just my mom. She's my partner and my friend. And I really don't think it could've lasted as long as it did without Harry Potter

Thank you for being there when everything else in my life was changing. Since I started reading the series, the things that haven't changed include my cat and...well I don't know what else. Even how I look's changed. My hair's not as blonde, I'm not as skinny, my freckles have multiplied like rabbits, and I have a slight astigmatism and slight near sightedness, despite the carrots I devoured. But Harry's been there. Harry changed even more than I did and we kept a pretty even pace. He lasted longer than any other character has, and probably longer than any other character will, in my heart.

Thank you for creating something that wasn't just a fad. It wasn't silly bands or Justin Beiber or Britney Spears or N*Sync or the Backstreet Boys or slap bracelets or Uggs. Harry Potter's something that will be passed from sibling to sibling, from parent to child, from friend to friend. I'm already working to get Boy interested. I even got him to sit and watch some of Chamber of Secrets with me last weekend. Harry Potter's story may be coming to an end for the long-term fans, but it's still starting for so many people. Harry's story will never truly end.

Thank you for being an inspiration. While Harry's a major inspiration, so are you Ms. Rowling. I've read biographies and studied what I could from you since I was 10. I know all you've been through, as many of your fans do. And your story, your life, may even be more inspiring and motivating than Harry's.

Thank you to the fandom, as we celebrate this last movie together. As we celebrate the end of the Harry Potter era. 

Thank you to the Harry Potter generation, because we understand each other. Some may look at us more and say we're the generation that grew up and understood terrorism (which is silly because, have we all forgotten the Cold War? Remember when THAT was a constant threat? Everyone wondered when something would happen? Different group, same thing. Anyway.), but I hope more people will remember us as the generation that grew up with Harry Potter. Because let's be honest, that's more epic. And though people will continue to read it, they won't have to wait. They won't have the anticipation. They won't truly grow up with Harry.

Thank you, one and all, who went on this crazy journey. And good luck to all of those planning to go through it soon.

Ms. Rowling, I look forward to seeing what you've been up to while the movies were wrapping up.

--Julie

**None of these pictures are mine. I still them all from tumblr. Should you want to go to the source, you can find all of them somewhere on my tumblr.

Note from Lanna:


I don't even know how to put into words my thoughts/feelings on the Harry Potter series, so I'm not even going to try. It was the first book series I really read and loved and it played a big part in my love of reading...and, well, those of you that caught my YA Saves post before I moved it back to drafts (because it felt really weird having something so personal up on the blog for anyone to see), then you'll know how much the series means to me.


And on that note, here, have a video that may make you cry:






If I ever have kids, they will read these books or I will read them to them and they'll watch the movies and I'll make sure that Harry Potter is a part of their childhood like it was a part of mine. 

I'm still hoping J K Rowling will write more books in the Harry Potter world. :(


Later.

3 comments:

  1. Such a great post girls! I cried so hard! We'll always be the generation that grew up with Harry Potter and Lanna, my kids will have HP as part of their childhood also!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow... HP has really been with y'all through a lot. (Boo to middle school.) Thank you for sharing your experiences. Now we're all teary -- which is good practice for going to see the movie ourselves tonight!

    ReplyDelete
  3. *hug* I actually shed a tear reading this. Its beautiful Im glad Harry Potter gave you more to share with your mum and everything.
    Harry will leave on with us true fans! :D

    ReplyDelete

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