When I was 4 or 5, a few separate, but related, horrible things happened. I have only ever talked about them once, so I don’t plan on talking about them here…but needless to say, they really effed things up for me.
I have often speculated that these incidents are the reasons that I cling so fiercely to my childhood and to my innocence. In this “Not Just for Children” series I have decided to share some of my more child-like qualities with you Creeter Readers. You’re more then welcome to laugh at me. I do. And if you do laugh…I promise I won’t get offended or make voodoo dolls of you.
Installment #1 – DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?
In 1998 I entered 7th grade and recreational reading took a backseat to fun, which conformed nicely to my “2 cool 4 school” mentality. My mom was furious and determined to keep me literate (thank God). She bought me a book. “A bestseller!” she said. I used some of my best protesting skills, but I lost and was ultimately forced to read the book my mommy had picked out for me.
I love her for this.
The book was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It took only one chapter for me to eat my words and succumb to the overwhelming pleasure of a boy and his magical world.
**(SLIGHT) HARRY POTTER SPOILER ALERT**
There’s something to be said about a great and epic coming of age story – a story that brings the reader along on the hero’s journey from innocent to worldly, from reliant to mighty, from “the boy who lived” to “the chosen one.” My love of this story spreads past normal intrigue, however, and into the unhealthy affinity of a world outside my own. I have, and always will, defend all things Potter-the great and the dreadful. I see the “you’re too old for that” smirks as I proudly adorn my Hogwarts crest t-shirt. I notice the pitying glances as I duck, yet again, behind Rowling’s pages in the library, in my car, between classes, in classes, while the other, more normal, kids are doing youth justice by “socializing.” But I don’t care about things like that, especially when I’m reading Harry Potter. It consumes me. Anything and everything can be related back to Harry Potter and I take every chance I get to make those connections.
This week in school, for instance, I’ve discussed slaves (house-elves), the fight against slavery (S.P.E.W.), shifting stars (Professor Trelawny or Firenze), Hitler (Voldemort or He-who-must-not-be-named, for the squeamish out there) and his Nazis (Death Eaters)…just to name a few.
But the question is not how it consumes me but why. My devotion to the series goes back to the journey within its pages. I have often seen Harry’s journey as a part of my own because his age so similarly reflected mine. I grew up with Harry and the rest of the characters. They dazzle me, a magic I had not expected. Looking back, I’m not sure I could have asked for better literary role models. They valued strength, courage, intelligence, friendship, family, and love, and they fought to defend the world against evil and protect those values. And I like to imagine a world where people fly on broomsticks and photographs move and things can be solved with a “swish and flick” of a wand.
This is where my inner-child shines and where the laughter begins.
I believe in it. No wholly, of course. I am a matured adult who knows that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real and that magic is, more or less, and amazing illusion. But I can’t help it. There is a tiny part of me that believes that I’m just not fortunate enough to be let in on the secret of their existence. It’s the part of me that still gets presents from the jolly man and still hunts for carefully decorated eggs. There’s no proof they don’t exist, after all, and because of this, I choose to believe. I choose to let my imagination run wild. I choose to take the criticism that comes with such naivete. And I choose to let Harry’s world consume me at every opportunity because I want to be as magical as possible, in every aspect of the word.