Once a year, for the last ten years, I’ve had a ritual.
I pull on my worn “Seeker” teeshirt, grab a bag of Jelly Belly beans, and head to the local movie theater. Usually I make sure that I’m there in plenty of time to get a good seat- I don’t want to be forced to sit in the front row and watch the whole film with my head tilted back. I settle into the plush theater seat, wishing that I’d brought a hoodie, and impatiently repeatedly unstick my shoes from the floor.
As the lights go down, and the first strains of John Williams’ melody chime through the air, the magic happens.
A whole theater of people, coming from their separate lives and different days, are once again transported into the imagination of one woman in a coffee shop.
Like Dumbledore with his Pensieve, I can float through years of memories revolving around the series of the Boy Who Lived.
There are movie marathons, homemade teeshirts and (when I was older) shots in the house colors. There was one epic cake that paid tribute to all four houses in cake and icing. There are stuffed owls and plans to go on pilgrimage to the “Wizarding World.” There was a memorable midnight release party, where the packed bookstore counted down the seconds as if at a New Year’s Eve bash, and the line stretched through all the aisles.
There was the rush of joy when the fresh crisp copy of each new story was finally in my hand, and the intoxicating smell of a new hardcover book.
So many of us have grown up with Harry, Hermione and Ron (and the actors who play them), and so many of us will be both happy and sad to see their story come to an end. We were so lucky to be here for the whole journey- to be the ones who can say “We were the first.” We were the first to read the stories, and see the movies. When we pass down the love of Hogwarts to our children, we can say we were there when nobody knew how the tale was going to end. We raced through our copies of the novels, and avoided the internet like the plague so as not to have any detail spoiled. Every generation after us will be able to go to the bookstore, visit a RedBox or download an eBook to instantly continue Harry’s story, but we were the first.
We learned about bravery against overwhelming odds, and the value of true friendship. We learned about the power of sacrifice and that even wizards have to do homework. We learned that the misfit who lives under the stairs can be a hero, and that Neville Longbottom could grow up to be totally smokin’ hot*.
We did it all together, all of us, around the world. It’s been amazing.
Tomorrow, I’m going to put on my “Seeker” shirt, sit in a darkened theater and let the experience wash over me one last time. I’m probably going to cry, a lot. At the same time, I’m going to feel so lucky to have been there for the whole ride, from the release of the first book to the end of the last movie. We may have been the nerdy kids who read, but we sure had a hell of a lot of fun with it.
Thanks, Jo. You made us all believe in magic.
*No really, he is.