A Visit with an Old Friend

Rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time in several years is like a nostalgic conversation with an old friend whom I haven’t seen in a very long time. As I read through the first few chapters, I can’t help but think, I’d forgotten how little we were.

I think I was about Harry’s age, perhaps a bit younger, when I first began to read the series in earnest. But then, we weren’t so very little. We were both too old for our age, I for my mind and he for his courage, wit, and strength. I tried to read the first book once when I was younger than that, but I couldn’t get past the first chapter. The Dursleys bored me. Of course, the Dursleys bored Harry, too. But we both eventually found a way out.

I find myself with warm feelings as if I were looking at old photographs when letters begin to shoot through the fireplace and my first new friend in that world after Harry, Hagrid, finally appears to tear away the dreary lie. Right now, I’m only at the end of the chapter just before Harry discovers that Hagrid is the one about to break into the cabin, but I’m already looking forward to revisiting everyone back when they were all so innocent.

While I’m remembering how little we all were, how innocent and childlike, it’s fun to see what J. K. Rowling’s style used to be like. She has never been a bad writer, of course, but her style has grown in depth and intensity and talent right alongside her characters. Harry’s childish wonder and Hermione’s compulsive rule-following wander alongside whimsical character descriptions and eager adverbs.

I miss them all: Hermione, my long-lost (and better organized) sister; Ron, my annoying but endearing best friend; Harry, the one I’ve been through everything with; Lupin, one of the bravest teachers I’ve ever known; George, my soul mate; Luna, the girl I wish I had the courage to be… The list could (and would) go on.

I’ve posted this on my blog before, but Ernest Hemingway said,

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you are finished reading one, you will feel that it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and the sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.

For me, Harry Potter is all of that and so much more. To Ms. Rowling, thank you for revolutionizing storytelling and children’s literature, and thank you for showing me what kind of storyteller and writer I someday hope to be.

I am very lucky. I am at an age where I got to grow up with Harry Potter, go to midnight releases (2 book releases and 2 movies so far), and wait with bated breath to see how it all turned out. I’m rereading the series in preparation for the release of the final movie, which is coming out (coincidence?) right before I leave on my big adventure: college halfway across the country.

I hope that when I’m an adult, I can look back and read the seventh book, relating to epilogue Harry as I now relate to seventh-year Harry. Most importantly, I hope I’ll remember to say, “I had forgotten how little we were…” I hope I’ll remember to visit.

To Mr. Potter and all of our friends: Thank you.

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