Apologies. I was never a fan girl.

I slipped into the theater last night. After reading aloud the eleven-or-so digits of our Fandango confirmation code to a jaded ticket vendor, he placed the stubs in my hand and off we went to our plushy seats. I was jittery with curiosity and eager for story. How I managed, with my voracious reading habits, to tip-toe my way around critical plot arcs of The Deathly Hallows, remained unclear, but I lay back in the chair, predominantly ignorant and wholly delighted.

I was aware I had no right to this excitement. I’d read the first three novels last fall. In Spanish. (Stephanie chastised me about not enjoying them in their original language.) I’d seen the movies in spurts via ABC Family TV specials, college boredom, and now intentional jacking off the internet and RedBox hopping.

But I was equally cognizant that my feelings for Harry were not artificial or inorganic. Rather, they were a symptom of latent joy, oozing like lava out of a shield volcano. For most of my peers, this was enthusiasm that throughout the years had erupted –primarily via midnight book and film release parties but, as I’d seen through Stephanie, almost anything that any creative minion had uploaded onto YouTube usually sufficed. Unlike many, for whom these emotions began stirring just prior to the millennium, mine first surfaced with the advent of the movies at the beginning of the century.

Although for many years  I never cracked open the pages of  Harry Potter, their actor approximations soon became plastered all over friends’ bedrooms bulletin boards, back-to-school supplies, and happy meals. Aside from their overly formal tartan ties and navy robes, the faces I found starring back at me always looked similar to those I called my friends.

Seemingly every time I blew through another set of candles, another Potter movie was released and another marketing blitz commenced. I might never have seen Hogwarts on the big screen until last weekend, but with minor celebrity dabbling beginning  around the start  of adolescence, the images of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were blatant and rampant.

My adolescence also heightened awareness to friendship. As I began to troop around with one, two, or three of my partners in crime, the inside jokes, passed notes and attempts to be heroic formed the base of my lifelong friendships. The genuine love that we had for each other, grounded in soul-searching conversations about the nature of God, exchange of honest remarks about one’s behavior during summer camp, and cheerleading each other through AP classes and SAT practice, was something freely given and freely received. This intensified in college—after four months best friends replaced strangers, and the longer the friendships stuck out spats, scorn and sin, the more I realized the cliché—that the greatest thing in life is to be known and loved—as truth.

It was through eyes made rosy by the gratitude of good people, who surmounted sticky situations, with faithfulness and resolution that I began to watch Harry Potter. In my late teenage years, it was  with the same delight as seeing junior high pictures of Alyssa, Heather and I in disturbingly long and frightingly bright orange polos, (shut up, we were cool) that I watched scenes of a 12 year old Hermoine bossing around the oblivious Harry and stubborn Ron. With a removal of years, there was laughter, not condescension and a joyful feeling of nostalgia.

As the movies chronicled their relationships in transition, souring and always growing, I easily grew introspective towards my own. Always and easily the over-analyzer, I begged for parallels between the love these kids fostered for each other and that which my friends and I devoted to the other . Their backdrop was magical; ours mundane, but our friendships and ages were so close that it was irrepressible not to feel camaraderie.

Still, it would never be fair to call me a fan girl. Not when there were those who composed Hagrid ballads, ranted about Dumbledore’s character on fan sites, and transposed Quidditch from flight to field. I hadn’t even ever read the books twice. Or once.

Thus, the body that should not have been warming a seat in a Pittsburgh theater Sunday night naturally was slightly on the disinterested side of the Voldemort plotline and quite indifferent about the battle scenes. (Though it should be noted, Snape has always been my favoriteist character and every time he coolly sauntered through Hogwarts and waxed towards anyone in particular, I was mesmerized.)

And yet, there I was. On the verge of some emotion (Tears? Laughter? Both?) throughout the entire film. Hours removed from watching the sixth and seventh movie, Hermoine’s Ron angst, Ron’s desertion and reunion, Harry’s guilt, I cherished the anytime the three of them deliberated, argued and sacrificed on behalf of the other. The movie’s last shot was the three of them …and all was well.

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