Harry Potter jumped off his broomstick and landed in my head at an impressionable age. I grew up with him. I ran into a doorframe and peeked behind my bangs out of swollen eyes to check if I had a lightning bolt scar. My eleventh birthday came and went without notification from Hogwarts. My Ravenclaw socks slacked under the ill-fitting jeans of my youth. I had a cape, for chrissakes.
The climax of the final book lifted me into the sky. Oh, I wish that words could tell you how much of an impact Harry Potter had on me, how hard he branded the magic on the insides of my eyelids! It was religious in its ability to blow open the doors to life.
I cried so hard when the series ended that my book and I resembled twin flood survivors, spent and wet. We both lay panting facedown on my carpet whispering to each other. I studded the air with gasps at the closing lines and didn’t know what to do or how to feel next. The sensation flashed in my ears like wings beating quick and dusty. It hatched me back into the world like a dripping chick.
I learned later that it was the way you feel after taking in a piece of art that burns a fire in your chest. It was the way I felt after seeing American Beauty or hearing George Harrison for the first time. That feeling was running through sunshine. That feeling was wow.
Years later, the voice of Jim Dale (the vastly talented narrator of the Harry Potter audio books) or the sparse opening notes of “Hedwig’s Theme” can still produce a thrill in my chest that rises like a phoenix. I waited at each midnight release for the books and films. Getting to them first was fresh and immediate; it was grabbing a new carrot out of the dirt by the root and taking a bite.
Harry Potter slapped me in the face and shook me by the shoulders until my senses were exhausted. He loved me when my teeth looked like pieces of a broken bell and I was blurred around the edges. He loved me when I was so shy it was like a disease crippling my tongue into callow spasms.
Years later, watching the first installment of the final films was the brightest spot of a salty wet November. Onscreen Harry is seventeen and so am I. We grew up together, him and I. We had sweet buttermilk ankles flapping under awkward pants and round faces framed by rounder glasses at the same time. We are seniors now. We are seventh years. We are the oldest of the young and the youngest of the old and we are about to jump off of the page.
J.K. Rowling lit a firecracker of yarn and an entire generation sighed out Harry’s story in sparks. When the final film comes in July, the last threads of something will be bitten off.
It is childhood and it is finding out that its pages are numbered. Harry’s onscreen adventure is ending as I head off to college and start my own off-screen adventure. It’s all sad music and growing up and letting go and falling off the edge and watching your friends fall around you. July will come and Harry Potter will go and I’ll be standing anxiously at Platform 9, waiting for my train to take me away.