I am a Ravenclaw. My favorite subject is Charms, and I am particularly adept at producing a corporeal Patronus (it’s a Golden, er, silver Retriever). Potions is a close second; my current project is to brew a perfect batch of Felix Felicis over the next six months. I own a snowy owl as well as a purple Pygmy Puff.
I am, most assuredly, a Potterhead. I’ve loved the Wizarding World since I was 11, and J.K. Rowling and her incredibly detailed universe captured my imagination like nothing else. However, in spite of all the times I tried Levitating my shuttlecock instead of hitting it with my badminton racket, in spite of all the scrapbooks and zillions of sketches of Harry I made on the last page of every notebook, in spite of reading the books over and over till I could recite the chapters off my head – I have, for the most part, been a Potterhead in isolation.
Growing up, I have been laughed at, mocked, and gently rebuked for this obsession of mine. I’ve been reminded, multiple times, that this is all just a distraction, and I need to focus on reality. I lived in a world without midnight release parties, without crowds around me clamoring for new books the way I was – I grew up feeling different, feeling like I wasn’t understood – pretty much like every Muggle-born witch before she gets her Hogwarts letter. I grew up with my magic intact, but just better-concealed. Over the years, I have cultivated a casual, ‘oh yeah, I guess I like Harry Potter’ attitude, even though I know that deep down in my heart, it lives on in all its obsessive, many-splendored glory. In true Ginny fashion, I gave other stories a chance, became more comfortable in my skin, more myself – and yet, never truly gave up on Harry.
Yesterday evening, on the eve of Harry and Rowling’s birthday, I attended one of the many many midnight release parties for Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. And it was a revelation. People of all ages were running across the bookstore on scavenger hunts to find Horcruxes and Fantastic Beasts, making glittery wands for themselves, and playing across a giant chessboard. We all tried on the Sorting Hat, we decorated and left out socks for the House Elves (Hermione would be proud!), guessed the number of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans packed into the Triwizard Cup, and with the whole place decorated with House banners, owls and Dementors, Hedwig’s theme playing in the background – it was completely magical. I couldn’t help squealing for joy when I popped into the girls’ bathroom and found a troll. Such attention to detail! There was a Muggle wall, where everyone had put up lightning-bolt-shaped, funny, poignant, heart-felt messages about what Harry Potter has meant to them. This was it, in this moment in time… I found my tribe, my people. Yes, we were all crazy, but in the best possible way. And isn’t it absolutely incredible that one woman can write a story of such epic proportion that she inspires millions of people to dress up in robes, sport scars and flourish wands – one woman, causing such multi-generational mass hysteria! If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is. Being there, celebrating Rowling and her world, surrounded by people who were unapologetically reveling in their mutual wizardry – it felt like coming home. Finally being wholly accepted, and celebrated for who I was , what I loved… after all these years, I’d finally made it to Hogwarts. All was well.