I was a pretty lonely kid. I feel like that’s a good way to start.
I had books. Books make great friends to lonely children, but I’m willing to bet money you already knew that.
So I spent a lot of time as a child pretending I was in my books. There was a series about a kid vet who saved animals. The iconic Saddle Club books. My afternoons were spent galloping around my grandparents’ backyard on the backs of imaginary horses modelled after characters like Black Beauty or a wild Mustang from a series I read about BLM horses. I used to steal from my mom’s first aid kit, to fix the broken legs and tails of my stuffed animals.
And then there was Harry Potter.
A secret, for you: a lot of lonely children have trouble sleeping.
I could never sleep, but was terrified of leaving my bed, fearful of my father’s wrath of me being awake past bedtime. So at night? At night was when I would sink into the world of Harry Potter.
Because here is something that, prior to 2007, could easily be argued: at the end of every Harry Potter book, Harry Potter was in the hospital wing.
I would spend hours upon hours pretending that I, too, was part of the Golden Trio’s escapades to save Hogwarts from evil forces. When Harry fought the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, I was with him. When they were attacked by Dementors, I was with them.
I even went places with Harry that Ron and Hermione didn’t get to go. Forget Cedric Diggory, I was the other Hogwarts student in the Triwizard Tournament. Which was convenient, because Harry also had a Huge Crush On Me.
And so, in our convalescences we would talk for hours about everything: how the Dursleys mistreated Harry, just like my own parents mistreated me… and more importantly, how great Harry thought I was.
I was a Ravenclaw, of course, because I was too cool to acknowledge my own Gryffindor roots. Which meant I was a cooler version of Cho Chang, really. I was a star quidditch player and the Boy Who Lived’s Special Girl.
The release of the third film coincided with the height of my romantic interest in Harry. It probably helped that Prisoner of Azkaban Harry looks like a lost baby Quinn sister. And that Alfonso Cuarón allowed the kids to wear muggle clothes, making them look all the more like people I could know.
My youngest brother (who just turned eleven) finished Harry Potter in a little over a year. I can’t help but feel like maybe he’s missed something, reading them all in one go. I got to grow up with Harry – as he started to move from being concerned with collecting trading cards to kissing girls, so did I. (Though I was much slower on the uptake about wanting to kiss girls in particular.)
Harry’s my playground love. He’s basically like that boy that most normal kids got ‘married’ to with ring pops on the playground to me. I grew up fascinated and obsessed with him. As we grew older, we realized we had differences (me, that I’m a massive lesbian and him, that he exists in a rather flawed – but still important – book series) but we still have love for each other.
I can always visit with Harry if I’ve had a bad day, and remember what it was like to be eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and comforted by his presence beside me in bed.