Potter holds the portkey to our hearts

November 3, 2010 — by Jackie Gu and Aashna Mukerji

Jackie’s Part: On my 11th birthday, the Hogwarts-embossed envelope I’d been expecting was missing from my mailbox. My chimney was free of owls, and sadly, no hairy half-giants broke down my door to inform me that I was a witch. I was heartbroken then, but I haven’t lost hope yet. I’m still waiting for the day the Ministry of Magic sends me an owl apologizing for the terrible mistake they made four years ago for not recognizing that I was clearly destined for the wizarding world.

I can’t excuse my recent influx of Harry-Potter-related Facebook statuses or my ever-increasing flood of Potterverse obsession. If you see me update my Facebook status five times a day with “OMG I LOVE SEVERUS SNAPE” or something similar, I’m sorry. Feel free to block me from your home page. In all honesty, I owe a long-overdue explanation of why I love this pop culture phenomenon more than I’ll ever love any other. Where can I even begin to explain it?

I was something of a late bloomer. In early elementary school I can’t recall the series having much of an impact on me, but soon afterwards my affliction, so to speak, exploded. The summer between fourth and fifth grades, I devoured “Half-Blood Prince” in a day, and when “Deathly Hallows” was released, I cried. Throughout the series I anguished with Harry, laughed with Sirius, raged at Umbridge and cried with Percy (you may as well have ripped out my heart and fed it to hippogriffs, J.K. Rowling). The Potterverse became my go-to coping mechanism for whatever problems I was having in my life. I knew they would never hurt me like people (or my grades) would. Instead, they were a steady source of solace that would surely never let me down.

The nearing release of part one of the final movies, “the open of the close,” will undoubtedly break my heart. Neither Aashna nor I are ready for it. In fact, we’ll probably be sobbing by the opening credits. Despite the “official” end of the series, though, I have no doubt that the wizarding world will always be a part of my life. And if I ever decide to get married, my future husband will have to live in constant paranoia— because there’s a very healthy chance I’ll leave him for Snape.

Aashna’s Part: Jittery anticipation woke me up at 8 a.m. on the morning of the best day of my life. The gargantuan butterflies in my stomach refused to subside as my sister and I took a train out to central London, growing increasingly restless at the prospect of being unable to sit down for the next nine hours. Packed like sardines between complete strangers and drenched by possibly the worst rainstorm in the history of time, I was nearing the end of my rope. And then the whole cast of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” arrived.

Since age 6, my life has been devoted to the Potterverse. I remember how my obsession started—I inhaled the first three books overnight. The rest of the details are fuzzy; my infatuation escalated to such extremes that I was dreaming about going to Hogwarts. My room was littered with all things Harry Potter, from action figures to fake wands to fan-made illustrations of each House’s common room tacked to my walls.

To everyone I knew, I had become the authority on everything Potter. Aside from being able to recite the books and movies backward, I made (and still make) references to them at least seven times a day. Surprisingly, instead of driving my friends insane, my incessant Potter-y created something for us to bond over. We held HP sleepovers that included staying up till 4 a.m. contemplating how to pull a Fred and get our siblings to eat an Acid Pop, in addition to various other equally embarrassing activities like performing “Potter American Idol.”

Don’t get me wrong, I know being undefeated at Potter Scene-It isn’t something to brag about. (Standing 5 feet away from the cast and getting their autographs, however, is a different story.) The Wizarding World is simply my escape from the monotony of everyday life—when I’m bored, I daydream about turning my enemies into ferrets or saving my godfather on a stolen hippogriff. In my mind, I’m the fourth member of the Harry-Ron-Hermione trio.

The books have had such an incredible impact on my life that it took me a while to realize that after a decade, Rowling’s saga is finally ending—an idea that both Jackie and I instinctively reject. In part, this is because we know that Harry’s door will always be open as long as the Potterverse continues to theorize, argue and wonder what could have been. Though the thrill of midnight releases has run its course, the legend is far from over—Harry Potter will never be gone as long as his fans who remain are loyal to him.

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