End of an Era

By Kelsey
Purcell


I
found Harry Potter when I was five years old, and fourteen years have
passed with this core piece of fiction ingraining itself most impressively into
my life. This is the story of my journey with Harry Potter.

My
relationship, not only with the Harry Potter books, but also with each
individual character, is more complex than I really care to admit or than I
ever thought it'd be, but that's the way it is. I've been ingrained into Harry
Potter
as Harry Potter has been ingrained into me. Without Harry
Potter
, I am absolutely positive I wouldn't be here today. Every time
anything in my life has stressed me out in the least bit, it's been some Harry
Potter
book that's helped me calm down, helped me through it, and kept me
sane in some cases.

The
characters were a little older than me, but I still related to them. They were
young kids going to school. Yeah, it was a little more exciting than my own
schooling, and that's what made it so amazing. I could disappear into that
world and have fun with the trio, though the trio became a quartet when I read
the books. I couldn't just attach myself to one character, as I did with
characters from other books, because they were all special. Even the worst of
characters (Malfoy, anyone?) ensnared me in this sense of making me truly care
about what happened to them.

Then,
in April 2001, something brought me closer to these books in a way no one ever
could have guessed: a janitor at the elementary school sexually molested me. I
told my mom, we filed everything that needed to be filed, but I didn't quite
understand everything that was going on. I was confused. Why were the police
involved? Millions of questions floated in my head while my world was turned
upside-down in the one single evening when I told the only person I could about
it.

I
had to grow up to deal with the magnitude of something I couldn't grasp at my
young age. My maturity grew well beyond that of a ten-year-old, something that
I've always been ahead in since. Always more mature than my friends, it's only
something I've recently learned to let go of. I have stupid, immature fun in my
life now, and that took a lot of getting used to, with help from Harry
Potter
.

And
while my world was being turned upside-down, what did I turn to? I turned to
the only thing I could think of turning to ’ I turned to my books. I immersed
myself completely in that world. I wanted it to be my reality; I wanted it to
save me from what was going on. My sense of identity had been jeopardized, and
so it became my identity. I started living in Harry's world instead of my own.
I did this because, in part, I knew I didn't want to deal with what was going
on, and I wanted to ignore it for as long as I could. When I turned to Harry,
that was my first and foremost thought: ignoring the situation. But as I kept
reading, and kept going deeper into his world, I realized it helped me through
because, as I could relate to these characters, these characters started
relating to me. They were there with me, in my head, hearing my innermost and
most private thoughts. They understood completely, simply because, as I allowed
them to come into my world, to become my world, I also allowed them access to
my memories and problems. The attachment I had to every character, no matter
how minor they were, became so much stronger because of that. I suffered with
the characters, and I laughed with them. They were my escape, my Hogwarts, my
home.

In
seventh grade, when we had the court date for the incident with the janitor, I
delved yet again into my books. They were all I talked about, they were all I
read, and they were all I cared about. They eased my nerves; they helped me
through another emotionally unstable time. They helped me explain to my
teachers why I'd miss a day of school. They were able to do this, because while
I was terrified of explaining it to my teachers at that time, I was helped by
the fact that I wasn't in my world, I was in Harry's, and what I was explaining
couldn't possibly have happened to me in his world. The books gave me a welcome
sense of detachment that I needed at the time. They helped more than any person
at that point in time ever could have dreamed of doing. This being said, they
helped me through this when my mother couldn't, because these books understood
what I had gone through, these books had suffered what I had gone through as
well. They understood better than anyone else because when I read them, and
when they helped me, they were as much a part of me as anything else about me.
That was just something my own mother couldn't even try to make a grab at.
They'd become my best friend, my closest friend.

My
first boyfriend (who shall remain nameless for his sake) who forced me to
perform oral sex on him in my own bed sent me into another Harry Potter
funk. Because I was sexually molested at an age where most children rely on
trusting adults, no matter who they were (who else was supposed to watch out
for us), I developed very strong trust issues. It always took me a long while
to actually let anyone in my personal circle of trust. So after this boyfriend
I had had for three months in 2007 had finally gained my trust, he went and
destroyed it the first chance he got. This put me in such a funk because, yet
again, the people around me were quickly becoming people I couldn't trust, just
as it had happened six years previously. It really brought up all the
unresolved issues that I was still carrying with me since 2001. I had to start
going to counseling, something that I still do.

Even
in the sessions, I talked about Harry Potter. I explained to my
therapist that when I read these books, my problems disappeared for a short
time. I also told her how they helped me, because of my bond with every
character in the books. I explained that these characters knew me better than
anyone else, because they had been with me through everything that had happened
with the janitor. While the case of my ex-boyfriend wasn't so tragic as the
case with the janitor, a lot of the same problems in people became apparent to
me. Why did I love the Harry Potter characters so much? Because while
they weren't all necessarily good, they never seemed to want to mentally damage
another person for the rest of their life, which is what people in reality were
constantly doing to me. I respected these characters, and they respected me.
Again they were my best friends, their world was my home.

I
don't regret it at all. Again, I grew through the books, they were my escape
when, once again, my identity was up in the air and when I had to question the
people around me, save for my parents and my books.

One
of my best friends, Daniel, I met when I took a trip to China with a group of
forty other teenagers through People to People. On the first night of the trip,
he snuck out of his room and bought and drank two bottles of Firewater (the
highest amount of concentrated alcohol is in that drink). He nearly died
because of alcohol poisoning, and had to be next to one of the leaders for
almost the entire trip. I bonded with him, because the friends I had made on
the plane were friends with him. When the seventh book came out, almost
everyone on the trip bought it and read it nearly nonstop, including Daniel, so
naturally, we bonded over that shared interest.

When
we got back home from the trip, we all dispersed. He lived two hours away from
where I did, so we rarely ever saw each other or talked, since he didn't have
any way of reaching me. We saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
a few weeks after getting back to the states, but then we lost contact. He
didn't have internet or a cell phone, so to him I was unreachable, and likewise
I couldn't contact him as well. He did do a good job in calling me once a month
from his job, but after three months, that abruptly stopped. I couldn't call
his work, because he had told me not to do so. Because he had been into hard
drugs and liquor before, I assumed the worst and feared he had died.

Since
we both had hard and troubled pasts, we created a very strong bond in China and
the short time following the trip. I was very put out by what I assumed, and so
I yet again went to Harry. Specifically the fifth book and movie and the
seventh book. When I read or watched the fifth one, I had nothing but memories
of Daniel being happy and joyous and with me, safe. The same thing with the
seventh book. He was alive and we read some of that book together. So in those
pages, and in those scenes, I had memories of Daniel being well. Because I had
put him, in memory, into those words, he was alive when I read them.

One
day I received a call from an unknown number, and it was Daniel. I was beyond
happy to hear from him, but at the same time, he hadn't really been missing
because Harry had helped me keep the memory of Daniel alive. When I heard from
him again, it was almost as if he had come out of my books and back into my
real life. It was amazing, and Harry was there to make it happen.

So
as this final movie is preparing to come out, while most people are excited and
can't wait for it, I've been denying it. I haven't watched any clips or seen
any previews. Part of this is because I want the movie to be completely new to
me when I see it for the first time. I've muted the TV and closed my eyes. I'm
refusing to believe that this is the end, because if I acknowledge that this is
the end, after this final movie there is nothing more, I'm losing a part of
myself. I'm losing my best friend.

My
logical side knows the books will always be there, as will the movies, but my
emotional side ’ the side of me that knows these characters and relates to
their heartache ’ that side of me is mourning, exactly like someone has died.
That's because, to me, someone is dying. There is a part of me, literally, that
will die as this last movie will soak into my eyes this Thursday night/Friday
morning. I have my ticket, but will I commit and sit through this movie? I
might not make it through that opening scene before the title flashes in the
clouds. And you know what? I deserve the right to walk out of the theater.

I
can choose to ignore this for as long as I want to. Or I can fully accept it,
mourn for the deep personal loss that's happening, and open a new chapter in my
life. A chapter of an adult who still depends on Harry Potter for harsh
happenings in her life, but an adult who can also deal with things without the
help of her reading companions. I don't know which one I want to do yet, and no
one is rushing me to that decision. It's wonderful, that feeling, but I don't
want to let Harry down. I don't want any of my friends in this vast universe to
be let down by either decision. I wish I could turn to them for help in this
situation, but I can't. Why not? That loss is still too near. I have to make
this decision without the help of something that's always been there to help
me. It's the hardest decision of my life.

My
final thoughts? I don't care what happens this week. If I see the movie, it
will be heartbreaking. It will be hard. It will most likely be unbearable to
sit through, but I'll have done it, and it will only add to the list of
memories I already have. It will only strengthen my relationship and ties to
the series. If I walk out because I can't handle it? The midnight premiere
won't be my last chance. I can go to a different showing later on when I'm
ready, or I can buy the DVD and watch it at my own leisure. Either way I'll
have lost something, and I'm just finally realizing that no matter how I lose
it, it'll be lost. It'll be hard, but I'll be stronger because of it either
way. I've accepted that Harry Potter is a big part of me, and I'm proud
of it. It's who I am, and nothing in this world is going to change that. Come
what will, I'll only be stronger.

Comments? You can discuss this essay on the Scribbulus forum here.





Finding Hogwarts

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