The first time I watched Harry Potter was when I was nine. My big sister watched the movie a few days back and she kept raving about its awesomeness so one day, she finally brought home a pirated VCD for all of us to watch. She was right. My nine-year-old self thought Harry Potter was more than awesome. I saw the movie again and again until I could recite the lines.
Back then, I didn’t know that the movie was adapted from a novel. I remember taking a pen and a some yellow pad paper from my mom’s desk. I sat on the rocking chair and began writing the movie. I described what the night was like, the color of Dumbledore’s robes, how the innocuous-looking cat transformed into McGonagall, etcetera, etcetera. I stopped when I couldn’t name the tool Dumbledore used to capture the flames from the lampposts.
Heck, it was hard.
When I discovered the books, I decided what a waste of time it was, writing a book that was already written. And so I bought all seven books and read them. I’d get shivers down my spine every time I would read the last words in any Harry Potter book (because that’s essentially what any good book does to you—send shivers down your spine as you read the final words.)
I was with Harry at Hogwarts while other kids were on the streets, getting tan and bruised from all the stupid Muggle games they played. I followed the characters around the Wizarding World until it got too dark to read or until someone called me to dinner. Then, I’d crack the book open and read again. Again and again until the characters felt like family and Hogwarts felt like, well, home.
I even went so far as writing fan fiction in old school notebooks (I never had the courage to post them online), reading the forums on Mugglenet, and playing some of the videogames on Playstation 1 and 2. Getting introduced to Palahniuk, Gaiman,and Murakami in high school didn’t stop me from loving the series either. I was sixteen and it was around Christmas when I bought “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”–the same time I bought my first lady handbag.
I felt happier about getting the book than getting the handbag.
The movies I also watched. After seeing the first movie and having read the novels, Harry Potter had already become so special to me that the prospect of seeing the films on pirated VCD/DVD was unforgivable. Year after year, I’d watch these films with my sisters. It’s a ritual we won’t be doing anymore because the movies are over.
That’s what I will miss.
No, I’m not one of those people who claim that the last film signifies “the end of their childhoods.” That’s bull. But okay, I did go through puberty with the kids from the movies. I struggled through all sorts of awkward bodily changes, got my heart broken (without realizing it then), faced failure, experienced the rollercoaster ride that was high school and Harry Potter was still there.
But really, it won’t ever end. You can always go back.
People have misplaced their nostalgia. What they will miss is the knowledge that after watching a Harry Potter movie, another one would follow. What they will feel sad about is when HBO does a Harry Potter 1-7.2 marathon during the holidays and when AstroVision starts selling a complete Harry Potter DVD box set with featurettes and deleted scenes. It’s always sad when that happens; it’s like gambling during someone’s wake.
Harry Potter will continue to be there even if I’m gone from the face of the earth because there will always be a fresh batch of kids who will journey with Harry, Ron, and Hermione through their Kindles or ipads or whatever. And someday it will be up there with the Austens, and the Dickenses, and the Dostoyevskys. It is, in its own right, a classic tale of good and evil, of friendship and adversity, of love and war.
I’m bold enough to say that Harry Potter is a damn good piece of literature and literature is art and art never dies. It is that simple. So thank you, JKR, for sharing with us something eternal that we could always turn back to even if we’re already experiencing the beginnings of senescence. Thank you for showing the world that it’s perfectly okay for adults to make stuff up for a living (and make helluva lot of money out of it.) Thank you for inspiring me to write so I could touch other lives with my words, just like you did. Thank you for making me realize that I really don’t need magic; I’ve had it in me all along.
And it is imagination, that which makes life a little more magical and a little less dull.