Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Witch's Life for Me!


Before starting this, I should warn you, this may contain spoilers from the whole Harry Potter saga, as it is my general appreciation of it. If I go book by book, I'll probably end up sinking in my own tears of love, joy, and all the emotions the meaning of this story brings up in me.


I don’t know how to start this. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks, and my only answer is “just do it”, so I didn’t give it too much thought. You’re about to find lots and lots of feelings in this post. I’m writing this in the middle of a class in which I’m sitting, completely clueless, by the window, as it rains and my mind just slips away to this other, magical world, and how badly I want to be there instead of here. Just like in my entire elementary school, high school, and college. While the professor rattles on and on about something I’m not really listening, my mind wanders far, far away from here, in an amazing world where there’s dragons, wands, magic, and a boy who lived.

I couldn’t have a blog about books, and not have a space in it for the story that has shaped me, that has been with me since… well, forever. I can’t precise how old I was when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, because Harry has always been with me. He has been my constant companion for more years than I can properly count, and that is why, I realized, I’m never going to be able to write reviews on the Harry Potter saga. Literally, never. There’s not enough words in this world to help me to express the thousand times I’ve read each book, the tears (of joy and pain) I shed with every page, and how their true magic filled my life when I most needed it (and still does).

My copies in Spanish of the first three books, read a few too many times
The reason I haven’t been sharing new reviews with you is, simply, because I’ve spent the last few weeks lost in the Wizarding World, re reading, once again, the seven books about Harry Potter’s amazing life. They are more than just stories. They are the perfect example of how, when you read, the power of what’s written goes in both directions. Every time I open one of these incredible adventures, there I am, at twelve, thirteen, fourteen years-old… Going with Harry, Ron and Hermione through the halls of Hogwarts, playing Quidditch for the House Cup, laughing with them as they make up predictions for Professor Trelawney’s class, brewing potions in the dungeons, having dinner in the Great Hall, hanging out in the Gryffindor common room –although I’m a Ravenclaw–… I can’t count the endless times I imagined myself with the Sorting Hat on my head, or trying wands at Ollivander’s…

You need to know, I was a very lonely child at the time I first met Harry. At school, I didn’t have many friends, I was laughed at, and bullied every day, and that left some scars that even today haven’t completely faded. I hated going to school, but I knew, in my heart, something that was always my silver lining. Harry Potter was home, on my shelf, waiting for me, to take me to his magical world. A world where he was also bullied, lonely (last picked in gym class? Yes, Harry, me too, my entire life), and with no hope of having real friends. I feel I must mention that I used to attend a Christian school, and saying Harry’s name in there wasn’t exactly easy. Many will understand this, as the books were said to be holders of dark magic, and were condemned in many places, so, I couldn’t share Harry in school, as everyone seemed to believe it was the same as summoning the devil. Which means that I was even lonelier, unable to share what I loved so much and made me so happy. Luckily my parents saw the difference, and I could have a truly magical childhood.

I swear I’m trying, but I just can’t do justice to how much the Wizarding World means to me, and what a big part of my life it is. I can’t number the times we discussed the story over dinner, how many conversations kept me and my siblings up late, laughing at Fred and George’s pranks (giving Ron an Acid Pop? Fireworks all over Hogwarts? Just priceless), analyzing Vold… sorry, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s motivations, coming up with theories about what could happen next… Even now, late night conversations about this story still happen, bringing up, for example, how much I see myself in Hermione’s quick answers in class and love for books; how sad I felt when Cedric died so unfairly, when he never hurt anyone; of how much I wanted to visit the Hufflepuff common room (the only one we never saw); how much I hated Cho Chang, but loved her Patronus… And of course, something I never thought I could feel, but I did: 

Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and above all, those who live without love.

Thinking over and over again, I realized of my deep hate for villains like Bellatrix Lestrange and Dolores Umbridge. But, even before knowing Dumbledore’s words, I’ve already felt this. Tom Riddle, even being the darkest mastermind and head villain of this story, NEVER inspired in me anything but sadness and compassion. He never cared about love, and thought power could fill him, gaining, instead, a terrible fear for the unknown. He’s an utterly brilliant character, for the simple fact (and many others, too), that he was scary, powerful, and put an entire world to their knees, but even so, I pitied him. How could I possibly feel that with such a character? It is indisputably the creation of a genius. 

Damn, I told myself there would be no tears, and here they are, streaming down my cheeks… I have a million stories that were born from reading Harry Potter. They are as infinite as if, looking at the sky, you’d try to count the stars. I could talk about so many moments! The Quidditch matches, the Yule ball, the visits to Hagrid’s hut… And the characters! There’s some things I don’t think I’ll ever get over or forgive. Like the deaths in Deathly Hallows, that they ripped my heart out. Or Severus Snape, who, through his story, taught me that heartbreak can make you even stronger. My heart is full of feelings that will never abandon me. Ever. 

Books four, five, six and seven. You can see how years have passed, as the last ones are not so torn apart by the many times they were read.
Whoever says “it is just a story” it is a giant liar. If it was just a story, I wouldn’t have lived what I lived (because that’s what it is: a world that is alive), I wouldn’t have felt each loss as if it was mine, like I was the one losing a friend instead of them, feeling the hole in my chest, and the tears welling up my eyes. I feel this story was written to fall into my hands, it was a world I needed to find. I think that one of the best parts in this experience was to be allowed to enter a world inserted in ours, but ruled by secrecy, not open for everyone; that wonderful feeling of knowing something not everyone knows, being a part of the secret, and knowing that perhaps I could handle myself better there than here. 

And the movies…! I will never forget the excitement and pure happiness of the first one, and I still get goosebumps with that mysterious, music-box like melody that vibrates in my life like the sound of a gong, overwhelming in its pure simplicity, and the promise of a secret, wonderful magic.

J. K. Rowling, wherever you are, I have no idea if you will ever read this, but if you ever do, know that you are my hero, and my inspiration. You must have heard this hundreds of times, but you have touched and shaped SO MANY lives, and I’m proud to be able to count myself among the first generation of readers of your world-changing story. You, not only with Harry, Ron and Hermione, but also with your strength, tenacity and perseverance when you were at your worst, are an inspiration to all of us, who feel like giving up more times that we can count. You and your story reminds us, over and over again, why keeping fighting to the very end is worthy. You made me believe in magic, and taught me how love is the most powerful magic in any world. You gave me hope when I most needed it, and when I felt lonelier than ever, you opened the doors of Hogwarts to take me to an experience that will forever live in my heart. You made me a writer. I decided that’s what I wanted to be because of you, and no story I’ve ever read (and I read many) is like yours. Harry has a place in my life, and heart, that nothing will ever take away.

Even when I think about what to write next, in this, my most important post, all I can think of saying is thank you. Thank you to the boy with the round glasses, for all those wonderful, magical moments, for making me laugh, and for teaching me to be strong, get up, shake the dust, and keep fighting. For making me nostalgic for a place I’ve never really been to, but still feels like home. Thank you, Harry, and J. K. Rowling, for all those years in which you waited for a lonely, bullied little girl, in this far corner of the world, that got home with tears in her cheeks after another horrible day at school, and let her disappear in the pages of a world where no one could follow her, and that she came to understand as a privilege, and made her smile at her worst. 

I wish I could read Harry Potter for the first time again. After all, he was my first fictional crush. But it is wonderful to see how, even years later, the magic hasn’t faded, and never will. I feel it every time I open one of my worn-out copies of the seven books, and I love that feeling that comes when I smile and think “this isn’t the last time I’ll read it.”. The truth is that this long, wordy post isn’t enough, because Harry Potter means more than I can properly express. I tried to get close to that meaning, and even after all this, I feel I left lots of things out. 

Years may pass, and I will still be reading, and crying, and laughing, with every page of this story. I will be forever grateful, and proud to call myself a Potterhead. And if in the future someone asks “After all this time?”, my answer will be the one word in which J. K. Rowling summed up the greatest courage, and the most powerful love:

“Yes. Always.

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