Let us raise a glass of butterbeer

“He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter — the boy who lived!'”

There are moments that become emblazoned into your memory. It’s like you can clearly see what happened even years later. I was in my 8th grade English teachers classroom. She had two bookcase with books on both sides. I had gone up to get a book. On the second from the top shelf, right in the middle, was a thick green paperback book. I clearly remember it because it became a huge part of my life after that. 

Harry Potter entered my life in the 8th grade, and the whole universe never really left. I made the weird mistake of starting with book 4. Weird because books 1 and 2 were actually sitting at my house long forgotten. A gift from a family friend that neither my sister or I had wanted to touch. But it didn’t matter. I started reading and was a little confused, but I was hooked. 

I spent so much time exploring the halls of Hogwarts and avoiding trouble with the trio. I knew every teacher and what class they taught. I could tell you what spells did what and how to correctly pronounce them. I laughed at the twins antics. I cried when my friends died. I cringed in embarrassment when Luna did something painfully awkward and later marveled at her ability to be oblivious to it. I sympathized with Hermione and eye rolled along with her as she dealt with the problems of two teenage boys. 

I stood in line to get my book at midnight. I attended midnight movies showings. I stayed up and read the 6th book in just about 15 hours. I’ve read and written fanficition. I love been sorted on Pottermore. I tattooed the star emblem on my shoulder. 

As a young girl, I found Hermione to be a know it all, and I fought the inclination that I was anything like her. However, as I’ve grown, I’ve realized that I am in fact a Hermione, and I have embraced all that that means. There’s nothing wrong with being a super smart girl who kicks ass and takes names and isn’t afraid to voice her opinions and fight for what’s right. She fought discrimination because of her bloodline. She stood up for the weak and helped give a voice to those who didn’t know they needed one (and don’t you dare call it “spew”). She loved her friends more than anything and put herself in harms way just as much as the boys did and provided the solutions to many of their predicaments. 

I’ve also come to realize, that I want to grow up to be Minerva McGonagall. Yet another strong powerful woman who doesn’t allow anyone to make her feel like less just because she is a woman. Once I learned her heartbreaking back story, I fell even more in love with her. She picked her future and herself over love which couldn’t have been easy. She refused to hide who she was and did what was best for her even if it meant sacrificing some of her own happiness. She’s positively purrfect. 

These two characters were two of the first strong females I was introduced to in pop culture. I didn’t realize it til later on just how much they shaped me – how so many of the characters shaped me. 

Harry Potter teaches you to be kind, accepting, open to others, understanding, patient, and that love is the most important thing there is. Without each other we are nothing. The story speaks to much in today’s world – a world divided based on backgrounds that don’t really matter, inequality between different groups, a group of men trying to control everyone and everything. No wonder JK Rowling is so outspoken on twitter against American politics – we’re living her world in the worst possible ways. 

For me, it’s been 17 years since I discovered Harry. It’s crazy to think that anything in the world of fast changing trends and pop culture could stick around for that long. I’m so thankful I picked up that book. These books helped me in times when I didn’t even realize that the pages of a book were pulling me through. It’s been 20 years since the doors to Hogwarts were opened to the world. It’s mind boggling that a seemingly ordinary boy who lived in the cupboard under the stairs would influence so many lives. Thank you, Harry. Thank you for taking us all along through a world of magic and excitement. And thank you, Queen Rowling, for sharing your simple story turned into epic tale with us. The world is forever in your debt. 

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