If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet, there are what some may consider to be spoilers below. You should stop reading now. Of course, if you haven’t read the books and you’re that passionate about spoilers, I might be rolling my eyes at you a little bit.
Yes, I appreciate the irony of publishing a Harry Potter blog directly after my last post. (Jon Acuff would appreciate it, too.) What can I say? I’m a woman of diverse interests.
Last night I sat in a theatre saying goodbye to some great friends. I cried tears with their hurt and cheered in their victories. I felt their emotions the way one empathizes with lifelong best friends. I know them well, so I understand the magnitude of their emotions. I got goosebumps when Bellatrix danced as she walked, when Ginny saw Harry in the castle, when Neville found the sorting hat, when Ron spoke parseltongue, when Luna knew something and Harry listened, when Minerva got excited over a spell – not just because they were fun moments in the film, but because each of those moments represented such evolution for each character. When the screen went black and the credits began to roll, the girl on the row behind us yelled “Goodbye childhood, hello being an adult!” She’s not alone; lots of people are saying that it’s like saying goodbye to their childhoods, but I was in college before the first movie came out and I picked up the first book, so it’s not my childhood that I bid adieu to last night.
There’s an element of that, of course. “19 years later” makes those primary characters 36 years old in the final scenes…just a few years older than I am now. Even they had to grow up, which was annoying in the book, but cathartic in the film.
No, I wasn’t saying goodbye to my childhood. I think my [female equivalent of the] Peter Pan syndrome will remain firmly intact for some time. In a strange way, saying goodbye to Harry & Ron & Hermione & Ginny & Neville & Luna & the rest felt more like a graduation of sorts. I was saying goodbye to their childhoods. I’ll still see them (between the hard & soft covers of my printed copies and on the screen of my TV or computer), but it’ll be more sporadic, less scheduled, than it’s been the last 10 years. I’ll still know them, but only as they exist at this moment.
I think that’s what I’ll miss most about Harry & friends – seeing them grow and change; recognizing my own growth & change in them. I’ll miss the anticipation of wondering what’s next. I’ll mourn the loss of characters penned and fleshed out so fully that it’s almost as if they’re from another time…a time before best-selling authors churned out books every other month for the sake of sales. I’ll mourn for the future of literature, seemingly so void of true wordsmiths to challenge the field and raise the status quo and appeal to the populace all at the same time. Harry reminded me, reminded the world really, that books can be literature even if they weren’t written a hundred years ago and are shelved in the children’s section of the local bookstores.
So, I said goodbye to friends last night, even though I’ll still see them from time to time. I’ll be looking, however, for true characters of equal depth and wit and passion and humanity, to fill the void they’ll inevitably leave behind.