Growing up with Harry: Why I skipped The Cursed Child release

I’d like to think that if we know each other on a close basis, then it’s not really anything new that I’m a very big (and often vocal) Harry Potter fan. Actually, even if we aren’t the closest of friends, there’s a chance you would probably still know I’m a huge Harry Potter fan because it’s not something I’m ashamed of, and I do post about quite often.

After all, I did dress up as Harry last Halloween, complete with Darth Daisy dressed up as Dobby, and have pretty much shared the picture everywhere on social media. Before you get worried though, my little Dobby had a sock pinned to her so she was a free elf.

But on Saturday, as the clock rolled around to 9pm, I got ready for bed instead of getting in the car and driving to our local Barnes & Nobel for the midnight release of the eighth story, The Cursed Child. In fact, I only preordered the book Saturday morning, and I probably won’t even get my hands on it until this next Friday when it’s delivered.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very excited to read the new scriptbook and discover what Harry is up to all these years later. But this isn’t my story. This is Harry for a new generation.

Nine years ago I had my voucher for Deathly Hallows in hand, waiting for the 12:01 am release. But fun fact: it wasn’t even going to be my book. I was living in Florida that summer working at a Books-A-Million, and it just happened to be the summer Deathly Hallows was releasing into the world. So of course, since my mother had been buying the books for my brother over the past ten years, naturally she wanted to use my discount so I could bring home a copy for him.

True story: at the time, I didn’t even have my own copies of the books. Yes, I had read every single one of them and had grown up loving Harry, but I was more into realistic fiction and Sarah Dessen at the time. My deep love for fantasy, though I believe always to have been rooted in my heart, didn’t burst through the surface until about my senior year of college.

But I digress. If I remember things correctly, Deathly Hallows was the only Midnight release party I ever attended, and that was really just because I had to work. I was in the cafe that night, serving up Butterbeer “frappucinos,” my Luna Lovegood costume in the running for best employee costume. It was the most fun I have ever had when it comes to books, and a night I definitely won’t forget.

Nonetheless, I went back and forth all day Saturday about whether or not I should go to this new midnight release party. After all, there’s a chance they may never come around again. I couldn’t decide between the fun of the party or the fact that it would be super late until I got home. And then, would I be the oldest one dressed up? Or would it be a bunch of younger kids? But after looking through some pictures yesterday and reading articles about all the release parties (I skipped the spoilers!) I realized most of the party attenders were my people.

My age group–us almost 30 somethings–are the one who grew up with Harry. He, and Hermione, and Ron, and the rest of the D.A. were our best friends. We shared the joy of being accepted into Hogwarts and the sadness of having to leave every year. We fought You-Know-Who together. We suffered when J.K. ripped our hearts out in Phoenix, Prince, and Hallows. We were just old enough to understand death, yet young enough we couldn’t fully read into the lines of grief Rowling shared.
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But now, nine years later and rereading the series for the umpteenth time–having lost and grieved in my life–I can truly understand the beauty of Harry’s story, and how powerful his tale has become to me. And that’s why, I think, I’m not quite ready for what comes next.

I do think The Cursed Child will be wonderful as well as create a who new generation of Harry Potter readers and fans–but there’s something quite special about growing up with Harry, getting lost in the newest book and having to wait so long for the next one. All the while knowing there are so many others out there doing the same thing. Because that moment–when you finally got Deathly Hallows in your hand, and took it home well after midnight, staying up until your eyes couldn’t stay open any longer just because you had to keep turning the pages, happy that the final story was here but sad because as each page turned you knew the story was drawing to an end– is a moment that can never really be replicated or replaced.

There will never be another end to Harry’s first story.
There will never be another moment when, well past midnight, we are all turning the pages, experiencing the hard deaths and the true joys…when we are all experiencing that final epilogue, knowing that when we turn the last page, we have ended an era.
And knowing that as we do, so many others across the world are doing the exact same thing.
We were not reading alone.

That is what I will remember most about growing up with Harry Potter, and what I hope this new generation will feel too. That no matter where you are in the world or in life, when you pick up The Cursed Child you know you aren’t the first–or only–one to read it. Each word, each line, each page drawing you deeper into a world where no matter the joy or sorrow, you are never, ever alone.

I know that had I gone to the midnight release party for the 8th story, I would have enjoyed myself. But nine years ago, the Harry Potter story I know and love, ended for me.
Today, Rowling is creating a whole new wizarding world between Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts, and Pottermore and though it is new and different, I am 100% along for and immersed in the story.

But someday, when we have little muggles running around, I’ll introduce them to Harry’s world with the hope that more is coming. Because no matter what comes or how the universe changes, I can always say all is well.

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