I went out this morning and bought the last Harry Potter book. The last one there will ever be. Haakan is sitting on the couch reading it, and to be honest, I don't have the heart to fight him for it, I'm unsure I even want to open it up. Truly, the fact that the jacket only states that it's the last book in the series is comforting to me, since every page that I'm going to read will bring me one page closer to the end.
So why is a supposed grown-up getting all misty-eyed at the prospect of the end of the Harry Potter series? Aren't there more important things to get misty-eyed over? Aren't there more important things happening in the world? Sure there are, but for me, and for so many other people (kids and grown-ups alike), Harry Potter gives us a wonderful escape from everything that's going on in the world. I know there are those whole like to malign the series as a rip off of this or that other book series, but it hardly matters. It resonates with so many of us. Who doesn't have that fantasy about a stranger showing up and telling you that you're not who you think you are, you're actually extrordinary? Who doesn't want to believe that there really are witches and fairies and epic battles between good and evil? And who doesn't love the idea that a child can stand up for all of us and save the world? The series overall has that same appeal that all epic good vs. evil books do - it gives us hope. And at a time when so many things seem hopeless. There is something wonderful about the vanquishing of evil in these books, the idea that friendship and family are going to win out in the end. No matter what side of the political spectrum one falls, there seems to be real evil all around these days and the world suddenly seems so dangerous. Who doesn't have the fantasy of being given the ability to rid the world of its greatest evils, and have the added bonus of having your best friends at your side while you do?
My kids are some day going to laugh at me, I'm sure, for all the emotion that I'm expending on a series of books written for children. But it hardly matters. Like all good books, Harry Potter gives us a wonderful escape, and into a world that I'm sure we would all like to inhabit. I came to the series after seeing the first movie, which came out right after I started graduate school, and I left the theatre thinking "Screw grad school, I want to go to Hogwarts!" And I still harbor that small hope that one of these days a giant is going to show up on my doorstep and tell me that I'm destined for bigger things. So as soon as Haakan puts down the book, I know I'm going to dive for it and begin reading. And I know that just like every time before, that wonderful and dangerous magical world is going to just suck me in and leave me breathless, like a swimmer who stays underwater just a few seconds longer than she should. And even though every page is a heartbreak, bringing me one step closer to the inevitable end, I know I'll consume it just as quickly as every book before it.
And when I'm done, I'll crack open a beer and drink a toast to J.K. Rowling and her wonderful imagination. And then I'll sit back down with Book 1 and fall right back into it again, as if I'm having a reunion with old friends.