“Leaving Hogwarts” is still on my Spotify On Repeat playlist right now and damn.
(John Williams is our greatest living artist, fight me.)
If I had access just now to a Time Turner, I think I’d just go back as far as July 2007.
I would go back to the floor of Border’s, sitting huddled in the children’s section with my best best friends, giggling in anticipation and amusing ourselves by reading aloud from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
I was dressed as Professor Trelawney, I was surrounded by my favorite people in the world, and I had never been in Love so long.
It was, forgive me, a magical night.
Harry Potter came into my life when I was in the fourth grade, I believe. My grandmother saw, well, You-Know-Who on Oprah and promptly ordered me a copy of The Chamber of Secrets, not understanding that the books were a series.
My mom accidentally ran over the hardback with her car, which, you know, probably fair.
(The only time in my life I’ve ever been cool is at the 5th grade Scholastic Book Fair when I was buying a copy of Prisoner of Azkaban while the rest of my classmates clamored for Sorcerer’s Stone. Dani Herd, once and future trendsetter!)
I miss sitting on the floor of a book store with my best friends as midnight approaches. I miss spray painting my hair red in the bathrooms at the Mall of Georgia and putting on a homemade Weasley sweater in preparation for an opening night movie. I miss the tears in my eyes the first time I turned the corner onto Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando.
I miss Harry Potter.
Because it hurts to re-contextualize something that you thought was Love, whether it came from a person or from a series of books. It hurts to go back and question everything that felt so true and important to your heart, to your soul, to your foundation.
I do not feel embarrassed when I express to you how fundamental the Harry Potter books were to my very foundation as a young human. I can’t go back and pretend they didn’t mean so much to me. I can’t pretend that I don’t still thrill when I hear the opening notes to “Hedwig’s Theme.” Fuck, I love that world so much that I PAID HUMAN MONEY TO SEE THE FANTASTIC BEASTS SEQUEL IN THEATRES BY MYSELF.
IT WAS AWFUL.
So, I don’t really know where to go from here. Others have already said it much more eloquently than I have, but, to re-iterate: We can’t pretend these beloved books didn’t come from a harmful person. We can’t brush away the problems inherent to the actual text. We can’t deny the fact that continuing to engage in this series adds to her wealth and power and influence.
This is what I keep coming back to:
You taught us better than this. You, maybe accidentally, taught us to be brave and to stand up to bullies, and we’re going to take parts of this away from you now.
Whether you ever decide to read Harry Potter again or not, you don’t have to be gaslit about the lessons you believe you learned. Whatever it meant to you might be tainted right now, but it isn’t invalid. You are not invalid or small or foolish for a book series, film series, amusement park section (Hi!) meaning so much to you.
As a classically strange little child, Harry Potter was one of my first friendship love languages and I will hold THAT to my soft, Hufflepuff heart forevermore. I think the books will remain on my shelves, but I might leave them alone for a long while. When I put on my Hufflepuff sweatshirt, I will be proud of myself for seeing myself within a group that extols loyalty and justice and kindness.
But the next time I visit the Wizarding World (I come from theme park folk, it’s unavoidable), I am going to wear my non-binary colors instead of my Puff colors.
Well, I guess I’ll just add purple.
Be mindful, be safe, let this mean as much to you as it does. Take your time.
Stand up to bullies, even ones who once claimed to love you. You owe them nothing anymore.
The Sorting Hat is just a hat, but you decide who you are.