Friday, July 15, 2011

me, my dad, and harry.

{from my pinterest}

When I was 12, my father returned home from a business trip to D.C. with the standard souvenirs in tow. For what seemed like an eternity, he dug through his suitcase before pulling out a book, a thick book with a nerdy black-haired boy on the cover, brandishing a wand.

I was disappointed.

My dad told me the book was all the rage, but I was doubtful. I was a lover of books even then, but books about good and evil, witches and wizards, muggles and horcruxes? Not so much.

Then, in an eldest child's attempt to appease her father, I read it. And I couldn't put it down.

Harry Potter was an integral part of nearly every one of my adolescent summers. I remember purchasing copies on family vacations, disappointing loved ones by holing up for hours, only to emerge later with a tear-streaked face and a runny nose, knowing that with each page turned, I was closer to the end.

My dad read them, too. Never as quickly as I did, and certainly with a great deal less zeal, but read them just the same. I'd finish my copy in a day or so, then pass them along to him, anxious to talk, not so much about conspiracy theories or series' end speculations, but about favorite scenes and characters, the imagination Rowling must possess to come up with it all.

I remember phone calls from college, books finished and driven home to Dad over long weekends. When I turned the final page of book seven, alone in a tiny basement on a pullout couch during one of the most lonely times in my life, I walked up the stairs, exhausted emotionally -- who would I, a mere muggle, be friends with now? -- and physically -- I'd pulled the only all-nighter of my life to finish -- and I just wanted to call my dad. I needed him to finish it too. (And he did, but bless him... Much, much later.)

I've never been a Harry fanatic: never donned black framed glasses, never attended a midnight movie showing. I love the stories, treasure them, see myself in them (what girl doesn't want to be Hermione?), but I just never could talk the wizard talk. The books were personal to me, and I wanted to keep them that way. So one summer, when Dad asked me if I wanted to head to Barnes and Noble for the latest book release, I said no. But a couple of hours later, with my dad already in bed, I tiptoed in to see if he still wanted to go. Drowsy and mid-snore, my dad glanced at the clock: 11:30. Sure, he said. Let's go.

And I gleefully got in the car with my dad, arriving far too late for a coveted copy of the book, but in plenty of time to quietly observe the lunatic masses. It's perhaps one of my favorite memories with my dad, and I owe it all to Harry.

Like so many others, I've enjoyed the movie adaptations of the books too. For me, they're not quite as magical as the books, but they're close. And while I personally said my goodbyes to Harry four years ago in a Birmingham basement, the movies have certainly helped to keep him and his friends alive. Each summer (or fall or winter), when my dad and I traipse down to the theatre for our annual date, we're reminded of what we finished now many moons ago, of the triumph of good over evil, of wizards and witches, muggles and horcruxes.

As this weekend approaches, I know that, for me, Harry Potter is more than a book or a movie series. It's a father-daughter tradition, a profound story tied up in the love I have for my dad. It's a passion shared only with him -- no other member of our family has read them (the shame!). I love that my dad took the time, energy, and effort to love something I loved, and I can't say thank you enough to Harry and the rest of the Hogwarts clan for giving me that gift.

Here's to you, Harry.

(And, Dad, I'm counting on a Sunday matinee. Let's splurge on popcorn this time.)


Jenny said...

Love this! How special for you and your dad! I have yet to read any of the books or see any of the movies. For whatever reason I've just never gotten into it, but they are on my reading list! I've got to see what all the craze is about!

amanda jane said...

gotta love harry potter...i love that image too. :)

Brittany said...

Oh man, some of these tributes get me. I love this so much. Books are so much more than books.

Kristen said...

Cannot wait to hear your response to the movie! (:

Rachael Lamb said...

Love this post! Harry Potter changed my life too :-).

Anonymous said...

This post is so very wonderful :)

Anonymous said...

This made me cry.
Because I can see Sean getting up, putting on jeans, and escorting our daughters to the book store. Someday.


Lauren said...

I loved this post. I haven't read any of the books yet but did take a little boy that I nannied to one of the midnight releases and loved watching him delight in the excitement. I hope to read them all to my little girl one day. How wonderful of your dad to connect with his daughter through something she loves--smart dad!

Julie said...

Yet again you have brought a tear to my eye. This time a happy one. When I became pregnant with my son (he will be five tomorrow and I cannot believe that I am a mother of a 5 year old!) my father-in-law began reading the books. He is slowly moving through them as well;) When I asked him what motivated him to start reading, until this point he didn't ever read very much, his response was that he wants to start a tradition of reading the books to his grand baby. Otto is still a little bit to young to totally appreciate the books yet but I have shared with him and now his sister of the special gift the their papa is going to share with them one day and how special it will be for them.

I cannot wait to share the experience with them while they move through this amazing series:)