Several month ago, I found myself dressed in my best professional red business suit, seated at a round table inside a small conference room at a classic Hilton Hotel in Charlotte, NC.
I quickly noticed the assortment of outlandishly decorated gift bags placed strategically in front of each person in the room. I wondered what sort of role these bags would play in a meeting about providing home care services to children with physical and developmental disabilities. I would soon find out.
Our lives are filled with daily interactions, but how well do we really know one another? The decorated bags would help answer that question. On the outside of each person’s bag were photos, drawings, buttons, stickers, and assorted memorabilia representing things people already knew. However, I eagerly waited for my coworkers to spill the contents of the interior of their bags. For therein revealed classified information that hardly anyone would guess about each person’s life.
I watched with interest as my colleagues described their families, commitment to their faith, volunteer activities, travel, pets, etc. I wondered, if I had been asked to join this “get to know you” activity, would I have had the courage to admit my…. ….
Alright. I’ll use a stronger adjective.
Yes! My OBSESION with Harry Potter!
Could I, as a middle aged woman, admit to my colleagues that I am obsessed with a children’s tale. Would I have the nerve to tell them that I know the spell for summoning objects (accio), the town closest to The Burrow (Ottery St. Catchpole), Hermione Granger’s middle name (Jean), or the best method to destroy a horcrux (a basilisk fang).
No, probably not. Good thing I only held the title of spectator, not participant in this little game. They’d never have to know that I’ve read all seven Harry Potter novels more times than I’ve read new, original material. They’d never have to know that I log onto Potter websites every day and interact with fans half my age. They’d never have to know that my secret dream is to join J.K. Rowling for a cup coffee and ask her, “How did you create it all?”
But then, something amazing happened! One of my colleagues, Jessica, pulled out from the depths of her bag a tiny, golden colored ball with wings. I nearly leapt out of my seat and shouted, “It’s the snitch! It’s the snitch!” (a small ball used in the game of Quidditch)
Oh, sorry, I forgot, this is a blog for Muggles.
(Quidditch is a wizarding sport, too complicated to explain in a short blog, read Sorcerer’s Stone for more details).
Oh sorry again.
(Muggles are non-wizarding folks, like you and me)
But back to the Charlotte Hilton. As every face in the room turned to look at me, I sunk back into my chair, my face matching the color of my suit. I returned my posture and expression to one of polite interest, and counted the minutes until lunch when I could chat with Jessica, a kindred spirit, a fellow, middle-aged woman with a passion for Potter!
I have tried to pinpoint the exact moment when my love for all things Potter evolved into an obsession. The truth is, I’m really not sure.
The beautiful, detail-rich story takes the reader on a vivid journey where pages cannot be turned fast enough in an effort to learn Harry’s fate. Now that I know what happens, I take my time during each subsequent re-reading. I savor every nuance, every plot twist, every subtle detail that I may have missed during the first, second, or third time that I devoured each page. I find myself, once again, rooting for Harry, the underdog hero who had leadership thrust upon him; and cheering the virtues of pitting good against evil for the final, breathtaking, suspenseful showdown.
I waited with anticipation for each movie, and patiently stood in the theater ticket line surrounded by a gaggle of teens. (No, I did not attend the midnight premiers, I am 46 after all - bedtime is 10 pm!) Perhaps I, like many other Potterholics, suffered so much after the last book ended that we had to cling to every little thing in the Wizarding World. If there were still more movies to make, then the story really hadn’t ended. At least that’s what I told myself.
Now that the final movie has come and gone, there is nothing left to look forward too. So…….. I’ll open up the pages once again to a fascinating world, created by an ambitious writer, who had an idea, while riding on a train, about an orphan boy, who learns he is a wizard.
And I’ll relive the magic, once again.