For the majority of my generation, the Harry Potter series conjures up memories of magical childhood nights lined up outside of Barnes and Noble and heated debates about which Hogwarts house you would be in. But, until last week, those stories meant nothing to me. I had never read any Harry Potter books. I didn’t know what house I would be in (although everyone who suggested Hufflepuff can suck it). I never camped out for a book release and I never thought about getting points for Gryffindor when I answered a question in class.
So why did I board the Hogwarts Express during the fall of my senior year? Well, some of the thanks goes to my roommate. She barraged me with just enough Harry Potter references to make me feel out of the loop and poked holes in my stalling strategy, which entailed reading Harry Potter for the first time with my (very theoretical) children.
But it was more than that.
It’s my senior year and I want to try new things. So I cracked open the first Harry Potter book and was transported into a magical world. I’ve heard the characters and places referenced countless times, but now I’m obsessed. I love discovering the stories for myself, but the best part is discussing big moments of the series with friends and watching them remember when they first read the same words. Harry Potter somehow resonates with us all and the world of Hogwarts feels relevant in so many ways. As I get to know the characters, I want Professor McGonagall to give me job advice, I want Hagrid to be a bartender at Smoke’s and I want Harry to worry less. I want to put the Dursley boy on a diet and maybe in therapy.
It’s easy to get bummed about things that don’t live up to your expectations—Barbuzzo’s salted caramel budino, I’m looking at you. That being said, it’s equally as important to celebrate the things that do live up to your expectations. There are little things to appreciate, like taking Penn Transit home from a bar or finding a new café in which to read . I couldn’t think of a better way to approach the rest of the year. The series will end with Harry’s emergence into adulthood, much like my upcoming graduation from Penn.
I’m in the middle of book four, but I want to savor this. It’s a simultaneous distraction from the ever–impending real world and a journey into a new one, full of moral choices, secret threats and important relationships. When something big comes up, I remember what Dumbledore once said: “It’s our choices that define us, Harry, much more so than our abilities.” It's time to make some big ones and I'm glad to use a series of children's books as my guides. See you at Platform 9 ¾.