The members of the Harry Potter generation, the children who have grown up with the books and the resulting movies, are now mostly in their 20s, and are old enough to get tattoos, which many of them have dedicated to the Harry Potter series. Do any scan on the internet for Harry Potter tattoos, and you’ll find one phrase comes up again and again: “It was real to us.” No expression better symbolizes the generation's experience.
I am a part of the Harry Potter generation and for us, the big moment is approaching: The last movie of the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2," is opening across most of the country, including Seattle, on Friday (July 15). Unlike many of my generation, I have no story of waiting hours in line at midnight for the book or movie, because I did not discover the series until I was in high school.
My best friend begged me to read them, begged, nagged, and harassed me. I kept telling her I had missed my chance, I was too old to read them. But one day, I sighed and agreed, and took “Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone” from her hands. And I realized why she thought I needed to read these. Because I did. Because there was something about these books that connected with me, and with every other muggle child who picked them up. (For those of you who failed to review their Harry Potter definitions before reading this article, a muggle is a child born without magical powers. Which, sadly, seems to be the category we all fall under).
Everyone dreams of being more than they are, everyone dreams of finding something bigger than their world. Children are most prone to this. We all want to find the magic, the thing that could make us special, unique. And so, when one opens up “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,” they become a part of the story. Because Harry Potter exists in a world connected to the muggle world — but where a muggle could actually be a wizard just waiting to become of age — we believe that there really is something more to our world than we can see. Just as “The Chronicles of Narnia” led us to believe we could walk through our wardrobes into snow, members of the Harry Potter generation believed that we really could receive a letter inviting us to Hogwarts. So there I was, at 16 years old, wishing for a letter. Thirsting for magic in my life.
A good friend, Zoe Hovland, articulates why “Harry Potter” is so loved: “I know a lot of it for me was the opportunities you have as the reader to identify with the characters — very few of us may have grown up in a closet under the stairs, but we still empathize with Harry's feeling that he's much better understood by his friends at school than he is at home, or that there's that one teacher who's always out to get us.” Harry may be a wizard, and he may have a magic wand, but that doesn’t mean he can always get the girl, and this means that he is, in some senses, just as normal as we are.
But will there be other Harry Potter generations? Will we have been the only ones to see the world behind the words? How many 11-year-olds will stand on their doorsteps waiting for their letter to come next year? Or the year after that? I have an 8-year-old nephew named Charlie who loves to read. Seriously loves it. He spends hours reading, and can get through a book in one day. Charlie adores the Harry Potter series, giving me much hope for future Harry Potter generations. I am sure I will pass down my copies of the series to my children.
I'm disappointed that I will be traveling when the movie opens in Seattle, and so will not be able to see it the night of the premiere. But I'll probably be re-reading a book from the series when it opens. Because, as the final movie approaches, those of us in the Harry Potter generation cling tighter to the series. We re-read how battling a troll made Hermione, Ron and Harry true friends; we watch as Harry receives the sword of Gryffindor in his time of need; we celebrate when Harry rescues his godfather; we worry as Harry faces off against a Hungarian Horntail; and we cry as Sirius dies. We were there for it all. And we will always be there for it all, re-reading the books, re-watching the movies, remembering. In a quote that's everywhere on the internet, author J.K. Rowling has said: “Hogwarts will always be here to welcome you home.” And for many of us, Hogwarts, the world of our imaginations, will always be home. It’ll always be real to us.
Want to catch the Seattle premier of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2“? Opening showings will be at 12:01 a.m. Friday at many local theaters. Seattlepi.com has a full listing here.