We own all the books in hardcover and have read them multiple times. We have seen all the movies in the theater and own all of those which are out on DVD. We know what a muggle, a grindylow, and a squib are. And we have handknit house scarves (I’m a Gryffindor, Husband is a Ravenclaw). And although the books came out while I was in high school, Harry himself is two years older than I am (he was born in 1980).
The majority of the meaty Harry Potter series came out while I was in college and just after. While Harry was living with his friends and learning at Hogwarts, I was doing the same at college. When Harry was growing to be best friends with Ron and Hermione, I was growing closer to my best friends. And while Harry was wooing Ginny, husband was wooing me. I didn’t grow up with Harry, but he grew up while I was watching and experiencing the same things as he was. (Ok, minus battling Voldemort).
I’ve been to see all of the Harry Potter movies with my best friend. During the “learning experience” summer we spent at Cannon Beach, Oregon together, I read out loud each night from one of the books in a horrible British accent…which I then proceeded to keep so long that some of the newer members of our workplace thought I was actually British. When the fifth book came out, all four of us (me, husband, and my bestie, and her husband) discussed our theories about future books with each other. When the fourth movie came out (right around the same time as Half Blood Prince), we threw a Harry Potter themed party opening weekend, complete with themed food like Voldetortes, Pumpkin Pasties, Gingerbeer, and Bertie Bott’s Everyflavor beans. We went to the movie in our scarves and talked about who we thought was going to bite it in the last book of the series (and my hat’s off to best friend’s husband, who staunchly defended his position that one of the Weasley twins would die, even when all the rest of us scoffed at him). When the last book came out and I cried at the end, it wasn’t just because I was sad so many characters died, but because I felt like I was losing a friend when that book series ended. Not my bestie, but the books themselves. But we still had the movies.
Our best friends live four hours away. Last November, directly after finding out the gender of our baby, we left for their house. We weren’t planning on stopping our tradition of seeing all these movies together, of sharing our Harry Potter experience. They have an Imax theater near their home, so we saw Deathly Hallows 7.1 there. And we talked about how we thought they would play out the two halves of the movie, where the first would end, what they might cut out, whether or not they would keep the epilogue…if J.K. Rowling would write any more books. The first half of Deathly Hallows was great. We loved it. And two weeks ago, they came to our hometown to go see Deathly Hallows 7.2 with us. The last movie. The saddest movie. The end. It was perfect. Many people have complained about the last two movies dragging…and while I’m not the movie critic in the family, I humbly disagree. If you’ve read the books, you’ll know that these last two movies are perfection when it comes to the Harry Potter movie line. They make up for the bad CGI in the first movie, the massacre of Goblet of Fire, and the casting of Robert Pattinson for Cedric Diggory. I cried. I cried a little during the first half of Deathly Hallows. I cried the entire second half of the last movie. And for the same reasons…a bit because these characters I loved so much were dying and a lot because the series was ending.
So when I say I love Harry Potter and I’m a Harry Potter fan, it’s not because I believe in magic or am going to teach my daughter that witchcraft is okay. It’s not because I wish it was real and feel like my life isn’t complete because Hogwarts isn’t a real place. It’s because I’m proud of Rowling, for what she accomplished with her books. I’m proud of her characters, for the growth in their lives and the evil they overcame. I love Harry Potter because I feel like we grew up together, that because of the books he was in my life is a little richer and a little better and a little more fun. And now the books and the movie series are both over.
But that’s alright. Because in a few years, my bestie, her husband, my husband and I are taking our kids to Universal Studios Harry Potter World.