In just under twenty-four hours, the entire world over will finally know the ending of Harry Potter. I am kind of in shock about this: from here on out, no one will ever have to be plagued with torment over years of wondering if Harry will survive or if Snape is really evil. Subsequent generations will never understand this and will likely give us odd looks when we describe things like midnight releases at bookstores or the complete secrecy the publisher tried to maintain during distribution. After all these years, it will all be over.
For me, it’s odd to think that tomorrow will bring about the end of an affiliation that began nearly a decade ago. I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the early summer of 1999 when I was thirteen and the series was still an underground phenomenon no one knew about, save thirteen-year-old girls of bookish persuasion. After tearing through it, I passed the two books (yes, there were only two books then) onto my siblings, Linda and Patrick, and we spent that summer rereading those two books and speculating to no end as to what would happen next. We cursed our luck in nearly every way imaginable too: there was no such thing as simultaneous release at the time, so while the British kids already knew what happened in Book 3 we were forced to wait until the American release date in the fall. The concept that we would later need to wait years for the next book instead of just a mere few months was, at the time, inconceivable.
The years passed, and as we were growing up Harry aged alongside us. And while I was never really obsessed with Harry Potter or anything, there is no denying that Harry kept creeping into what I was doing. He showed up when I visited Hungary after eighth grade and my cousin and I compared our copies, wondering who on Earth decided that “Roxfort” is the proper Hungarian translation of “Hogwarts” or how exactly “Hugrabug” became the equivalent of “Hufflepuff.” Harry made an appearance in one of the very first editorials I wrote, which appeared in the high school paper around the release of the first movie and lambasted movie producers for turning perfectly wonderful books into perfectly terrible movies. He even showed up in Wellington, New Zealand a few months ago when I learned during the course of conversation that one of my British friends in the hostel had been cast as a Slytherin in the first two films.
There is no denying that it’s been fun growing up along with one of the most prominent cultural icons of my generation. And yet here’s the thing: while others might be impatiently waiting to see what will happen, I personally do not want Harry Potter to end. How could I? From here on out there will never again be the magic of opening a new Harry Potter book for the first time, and Harry will make the subtle but important transition from someone I grew up with to someone I knew while growing up. It just won’t be the same anymore.
So as we finish the finally countdown, I’d just like to say thank you, Harry. It’s been an exciting eight years. And be sure to give Voldemort hell tomorrow, will you?