Harry Potter and the Fandom Everlasting

Good evening to you all! I hope your summers are all as awesome and exciting as they are hot and humid.

I come to you tonight with a post dedicated to your favorite boy wizard who isn’t a boy anymore: Harry Potter. With the recent opening of the Diagon Alley portion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando and the Quidditch World Cup articles and coverage on Pottermore, there has been a lot of news that would make and has made Potterheads squeal with delight (I’m not saying I did, but I’m not saying I didn’t). In the Harry Potter fandom, any news is practically good news and July was full of great news! I won’t be summarizing the events of the past two weeks—you can look them up on your own—but I am going to take this chance to revel in the joy of the past and things to come by celebrating and remembering one of my favorite series of all time.

I'm the one on the left.
I’m the one on the left.

Anyone who has known me for any amount of time knows that I am a Harry Potter fan, a Potterhead if you desire. There is honestly no doubting it! I sport Deathly Hallows necklaces, build Harry Potter Lego sets, have a cardboard standup of Ron Weasley, have dressed up as Luna Lovegood for Halloween on more than one occasion (I have the blonde hair for it), own two copies of each of the books, and the list goes on and on. Being a fan, even of something as large as Harry Potter, is a part of who I am.

I began reading the series when I was in third grade. I had heard about it and even saw the movies in Blockbuster waiting for my virgin mind to be blown by their sheer awesomeness. However, not many people in my school seemed to be toting around these books and I was a child dead set on fitting in at any cost (thankfully I grew out of that). Even though my sheepish behavior in regards to HP was shameful at this age, I am eternally grateful that I didn’t watch the movies before I read the books. Thank you, eight year-old me.

I remember purchasing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because it is one of my favorite memories. A random day in third grade, I believe it may have been a Sunday, my dad and I went to the mall with my youngest sister (at the time she was only 1 or 2), and entered the smallest bookstore you’d ever seen. I went straight to the kid’s section in the back and somehow locked right on Harry Potter. I had seen the cover so many times; what made me want to buy it then? I reached into my little purse and pulled out eleven dollars of allowance money saved over backbreaking months of cleaning dishes and purchased the book that would change my life. I just didn’t know it then.

WWoH in Orlando!
WWoH in Orlando!

Before Harry Potter, I was an avid reader. I reread countless books in my bookshelf, took out stacks at the library like it was my job, and even recommended a few choice titles to my peers (can I get a shout-out for Spot?). I read for fun and that was it. So what if Spot went to a Halloween party? It was fun, but it was meaningless fun. I didn’t get anything from those childhood books except the fact that they were easy to read and fun to look at. Harry Potter opened a whole window into the world of reading for me. Not only was I reading each book for fun, but I was also connecting people to events and discovering backstories and character development. The events that occurred in Sorcerer’s Stone mattered in Chamber of Secrets and that excited me. Reading Harry Potter showed me that books could be meaningful as well as fun.

But, like I said earlier, I wasn’t always the gung-ho HP fan that I consider myself today. I tried to hide my Harry Potter books as best as I could because of their sheer size, but also because my peers weren’t all too accepting of the “wizardly fiction” I was reading. I remember my grade school having us read Prisoner of Azkaban for summer reading into seventh grade and then retracting it because of the wizardly elements and what that meant to the Catholic church (like seriously? come on now). But still, I didn’t really have any people to get excited about Harry Potter with. I had my best friend Jen, who I still have today, but we didn’t exactly have a group of Harry Potter lovers that shared our excitement. We just had a bunch of fellow students who gushed about cute boys and wore Aeropostale.

It wasn’t until I explored the online world more fully, namely Tumblr, that I embraced my love for Harry Potter with open arms. The sheer amount of overwhelming emotion that exuded from my online friends after finishing Deathly Hallows or the extreme amount of gifs that appeared after a movie premiere was just so exciting; it was what I was looking for all along! These people felt how I felt about Harry Potter and that was so exciting. I found lifelong friends in the Harry Potter fandom that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. It’s amazing what happens when you truly embrace who you are, even if it is a tiny fraction of your whole self!

Me and the family enjoying a tourist-y picture.
Me and the family enjoying a tourist-y picture.

So, in conclusion, I want to thank J.K. Rowling for creating this beast of a fandom with her magical words and immense imagination. Without her, and without Harry Potter, I’m not sure I would be the person I am today. Some people may still think I’m a bit strange for liking something so strongly, especially now that the books and movies are over, but to them I have something to say: I open at the close. The books and movies may be over, but the fandom is just beginning. Harry Potter will never die; it will live on… always.

 

Until next time, DFTBA!

-Riley

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