My daughter, Sierra, was seven when she read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was summer of 2000 and I was hearing great things about the books, as the fourth in the series had just been released. I bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for my daughter, eager to get her involved in actual chapter books that didn’t have 14-point font and knowing that she was reading books far below her comprehension level. By Christmastime that year, Sierra had read the entire series.

“Read them, mom,” she insisted. “I think you’ll really like them.”

I wanted to, but one thing or another kept me from doing so. Finally, when Jim, my soon-to-be husband, read the first book and agreed that Sierra was onto something, I read it. Within a year, Jim and I had both read all four books as well.

Jim and I were married in June 2001 and Sierra was adopted into the family by the end of that year. I gave birth to my twin sons on Valentine’s Day 2002. Life went on. A long festering tension between Jim and Sierra developed, especially as she entered into adolescence. 9/11 happened. Distances grew.

Sierra was nearly eleven when the fifth book, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, was released in July 2003. My family awaited the release of the book with giddiness, and we were among the first in line to purchase it. We took turns reading it, rushing to finish so that we could hand it off to the next person waiting. When we were done, we three had something meaningful and stress-free to talk about together over dinner.

Over the next four years, Jim and Sierra’s relationship devolved fully. Sierra adapted poorly to her life as a teenager, attempting suicide more than once. Running away from home. Ditching school. Jim and I, too, found ourselves growing ever more distant as the struggles to raise children, run a household, make bills, and communicate well became obstacles we couldn’t overtake.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the last book we read as a family. The last book, perhaps the last thing entirely, that ever bonded Jim, Sierra, and me. The last dinnertime topic of conversation to stir shared excitement.

By the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the seven part series, was released on July 21, 2007, my marriage had been over for nearly a year. Sierra was nearly fifteen and mostly absent from my life, even though we shared physical space in my tiny new home. I read the final book by myself, as did Sierra. I assume Jim read it, too. There was no conversation. The epic ended with loneliness, both for me and for the characters in the book, who I’d watched grow with my daughter, and, finally, seen die with my marriage.

***********

Yesterday was my fourth post-marriage Thanksgiving. My second ever without my children. My first where I felt totally at peace, the anxiety and loneliness of previous holidays completely absent. I spent the morning cooking food and talking to family, in my pajamas and robe, music playing in the background. In the early afternoon, I joined some friends for four hours of absolutely delightful conversation and the best meal I’ve eaten in months. The time flew quickly, and when it was time to go, we all hugged and gave thanks to one another. Time has moved on. Life has evolved. Things – they’re okay.

After dropping my friend off at home, I decided to go see part one of the final installment of the Harry Potter series. While I’ve never been much of a fan of the movies, this one has generated a lot of buzz, and most reports indicate that the performances, for once, supersede the special effects. But all that aside – I’d seen all the other movies. I’d read all the books. Of course I was going to see it! And, honestly, I couldn’t wait.

I was startled to find the theater packed. I located a seat near the front and was soon joined by an older man, also alone.

“I’ve never seen these before,” he said.

“You mean you’ve never seen any of the movies?”

“None,” he said.

“Have you read any of the books?”

“No. Can you catch me up on what I’ve missed?”

“Well, not really,” I said.

Normally I would be irritated by this type of intrusion, but here we were, the only two singletons in a room full of families and couples on Thanksgiving night. I felt a surge of tenderness and attempted to give my neighbor a very brief synopsis of the Harry Potter Universe. The previews started and I found that he wanted my opinion of each one. The movie began and I found myself explaining what horcruxes were. About twenty minutes into the movie, I found a new seat.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I really does offer some fine performances. Either Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint have finally learned how to act or Yates has finally learned how to direct, or both. And the three stars have grown into fine young adults – especially Radcliffe. (This is where I reveal my kind of creepy but finally not inappropriate-to-admit uber-crush on Daniel Radcliffe. I mean, have you seen his photos from the play Equus?) The movie is a short two and a half hours, and I, an ADD-prone magpie, didn’t notice the time passing and was disappointed when the credits rolled.

At one point, midway through the movie, there is a remarkably beautiful scene with Radcliffe and Watson. They’re alone in a tent, Grint’s character having sulked off into the cold winter night after suffering a particularly bad bought of paranoia due to a horcrux he’s wearing around his neck (no, I won’t tell you what a horcrux is). The two characters are sad, despondent. Hopeless. Radcliffe’s Potter stands up, takes Watson’s Hermione by the hand, and forces her to dance with him. She’s reluctant at first, but slowly comes round and puts in a little effort – for Harry’s sake. For her own sake. The two dance and you can see the love they have for each other – these two characters who have grown up together; these two actors who have as well. At the end of the scene, Hermione’s face falls once again; she pulls away. The dance is over.

I sat in the dark theater alone, watching this scene, thinking: my, how these kids have grown. What a hard, dark road they (the characters) have ahead of them. Then, immediately, I thought of my daughter. I pictured her holding her baby son, my grandson. Her struggling marriage. The sound in her voice when I ask her how she’s doing. How all of them have to go it alone, and I just have to sit back and watch, an observer in an audience. I wept.

The movie ended. I collected my belongings and left the theater, alone.

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GLORIA HARRISON is a writer whose work has been featured on The Nervous Breakdown, Fictionaut, and This American Life. Gloria was the lead editor for The Portland Red Guide: Sites & Stories of Our Radical Past by Michael Munk, which was published through Ooligan Press in 2007. She was also a contributing editor to Pete Anthony's book, Immaculate, for which she received a high five and a ten dollar gift card to Stumptown Coffee. Gloria graduated from Portland State University with her B.A. in English in 2006 and now focuses on her own writing. She had a work of flash fiction published in The Bear Deluxe Magazine (No. 26). You can follow her on Twitter here.

Gloria lives in Portland, Oregon with her school-age twin boys. She is currently working on both a memoir and her first novel. You can contact Gloria via her Facebook page.

81 responses to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Final Chapter”

  1. David says:

    My how the holidays can bring this out. A time to focus on togetherness, unless, of course, you are alone.

    Sometimes I believe we are only as happy as we allow ourselves to be.

    Sometimes allow seems to have nothing to do with it.

    Well written, Gloria.

  2. Art Edwards says:

    Good lord, you wrote that in a day? Jesus, that’s effective.

    I love the way you take us through the events of your life as they relate to Potter releases. I haven’t read or seen any of this newfangled Potter stuff, but I bet I’d prefer this piece to any of it.

    Art

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Hi Art,

      I did! When the muse visits, I’d better be ready. That’s what I’ve learned. I’m her bitch. This landed on me first thing this morning and I had to be ready to go.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  3. James D. Irwin says:

    The first sentence is funny to me, because over here it’s ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’ Stone’…

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Oh, you silly Brits and your propriety and fear of the occult.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        HP is a British book! It’s title was changed for the US market for some reason to do with either a slight usage difference or ‘philosopher’ sounding too adult for children. I forget which. Maybe it was neither of those. But it was changed from Philosopher…

        • Gloria says:

          I’m such an arrogant American. I was remembering it backwards. My bad, Irwin. Of course I know Potter is British, but for some reason I was remembering that the renaming had something to do with somebody’s aversion to the occult. I’m ridiculously undereducated about mass hysteria. I try to avoid it.

          Thanks for the schooling, sir!

        • James D. Irwin says:

          That’s the closest I’m ever going to get to defending Harry Potter.

          Fo’ real.

          No, those books are fun. Not great literature, but then most of what I like isn’t exactly high art. I remember when I was a kid I bought one, went to my room and read the whole thing in one go. And to be fair there aren’t many books that can do that…

        • Gloria says:

          For real – the guy who watches Point Break and Road House back to back every year had better defend Harry Potter! 😉

        • dwoz says:

          How odd!

          “philosopher’s stone” makes so much more sense. Being, of course, a reference to the alchemical object that, fancy that, coincidentally brings immortality.

  4. James D. Irwin says:

    Like I e-mailed you, I don’t like Harry Potter.

    But I love this.

    Also I did read the first few books when I was a kid, but in the long gap between 4 and 5 (I think) my reading material matured or something. I started reading grown up books and because I was kind of a dick when I was 13 or 14 I didn’t think I should go back to reading ‘kids’ books.

    This knowledge though means I can occasionally delight my friend Sara by referencing the series despite often crying with boredom when the topic arises amongst mutual friends…

    This was beautiful. Also Radcliffe is okay. Have you seen him in the episode of Extras he did?

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Someday, if you have kids, you might find an excuse to finish the series. Thank you, kind sir, for reading.

      (Hi Irwin!!! 🙂 )

      • James D. Irwin says:

        If I have kids they shall enjoy enjoy a half hour of wireless per day, and I will have my butler read them either a chapter of one of the classics, or a number of select passages of Shakespeare before each night before bed at 8pm.

        (Hi Gloria!)

        • Gloria says:

          By “wireless” do you mean “wireless internet” or “radio?”

          Also, you’re going to have a butler? Not a house elf?

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Radio, of course! (I ‘work’ in radio now!)

          I’m going to have a gentleman butler. I shall call him Jenkins.

  5. Joe Daly says:

    Eek. Not expecting that. “That” meaning the powerful way I related to this.

    Harry Potter also followed me through a relationship, up to the fifth book, I believe. Purchasing and reading that book was pretty much the day I realized it was all over. I have not re-read that book or either of the final two. I probably should, huh?

    Maybe I’ll just see the movie.

    I really relate to that perspective you get looking at the kids these days, and remembering back when it was all so new to you, too. Good stuff, Gloria.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Joe – I highly recommend finishing the series (if you’re going to) before you see the final installment next summer. Certain events occur that you MUST read about before you see them.

      It’s interesting to me how powerfully literature locates you in a certain place or time. Thanks for sharing your story; sorry to rehash troubling memories.

      Thanks for reading, kind sir.

  6. Gloria, this was quite touching. And so interesting to have something like Harry Potter be the thing that bookends your marriage, and your daughter’s growth. Really brings such new depth and meaning to the H.P. experience. Kinda reminds me how I’ve had certain bands in my life truly locate me at a certain place and time. Growing up, it would’ve been the Beatles. In college: R.E.M. And so on. It’s like I hear one of their songs and I’m taken back through time.

    • Gloria says:

      Oh, me too, Rich (Re: music.) From my experience, though, music arrests me in a certain time and place. For this reason, “Little Earthquakes” and “Downward Spiral” (for instance) just don’t do it for me anymore. I think because of the narrative nature of literature (rather than the snapshot-like quality of a song or album), I’m able to still feel the relevance of it. If that makes sense.

      Thanks for your words, Rich. I appreciate it.

  7. I’ve always liked the imagination of the Harry Potter books, but I have to say that your story might be the more engaging one to me. After the heartbreak you touch on here, there’s something very powerful about the paragraph that ends with “Things – they’re okay.” Thanks for sharing this.

    Meanwhile, there’s this recent video of Radcliffe that I thought I’d throw in for good measure: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/a1c04ce68e/i-am-harry-potter

  8. Funny how such things can attach themselves so powerfully to our lives. Just watching a movie like that can bring back not only memories but feelings. It’s different for everyone, so it’s hard to explain why, for example, Harry Potter can have such an influence… but you did so wonderfully. This was a really touching story.

    I read the first Potter book (which, as Irwin mentioned has a different name in the country where it was written) back in school. I didn’t care for it. I thought it was very poorly written, and just not for my taste. Over the years I helped my little brother read the other books, listen to the audio versions, and took him to the cinema to see those terrible, terrible movies… I have no intention of subjecting myself to this one, though. It’s doing well in China. Lots of my students are asking me to go and watch it.

    • Gloria says:

      Thanks for reading and for the kind comment, David.

      Question: if you went to see HP with your students, would it be subtitled in Korean? I would pay to see that. I love that stuff.

      • I doubt it. I’m currently living in China, so it would probably be dubbed in Chinese, or at subtitled in Chinese. In Korea they usually showed the movies in English, with just Korean subtitles.

  9. Zara Potts says:

    Jinkers -I’ve never read the Harry Potter series. My step daughter did however and was very adept at giving me a running commentary as well as changing their names into ridiculous forms. Because of this, Harry Potter will forever be ‘Barry Trotter’ and Ron Weasley ‘Ron Pees Easily’ for me.

    This is a lovely inter weaving piece, Gloria.

    There’s something really nice about seeing a fantastical movie on a holiday isn’t there?

    • Gloria says:

      Yeah, Tolkien and Indigo love changing the names too. It must be universal. I’m going to have to share Ron Pees Easily with them. I’m sure I’ll regret it later.

      I’ve not gone to see many movies during a holiday, though I did go and see Sweeney Todd on Christmas day once – and, given my mood at the time, it seemed an absolutely perfect choice. This was my second time. You’re right – it was nice. 🙂

      Thanks for your kind words, Ms. Zara.

  10. Ashley Menchaca (New Orleans Lady) says:

    Wow, Gloria!
    Touching piece.
    It is beautiful and heart wrenching all at once. Life deals us some shitty hands but it seems as though your luck is changing. Keep moving in the right direction.

    I’m sorry for Sierra. I know things are tough for her right now. As an outsider looking in, she seems to be lonely. Nothing hurts more as a new parent than to know or feel that the two of you have only one another. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. Just the thought of it alone makes you want to die. I’ll keep her in my prayers.

  11. Quenby Moone says:

    Harry Potter is poignant for me as well, representing all kinds of painful things with my father. The summer he was diagnosed with cancer I gave him those books to transport him from his troubles a bit and then we watched the movies together. After we saw the sixth one together in the theater, I made the uncomfortable realization that he might not make it to the last installment. I confronted, for the first time perhaps, that his finality was very real.

    And now that the last installment is out and it’s come to pass, I can’t decide: go and raise a candle to his memory or wait until the scab isn’t so fresh.

    Anyway, lovely piece. Which isn’t extremely…articulate? But accurate.

    • Gloria says:

      Well, I can’t tell you which decision to make, for sure, but I will say that it’s a movie worth seeing – and I wouldn’t say that about any of the others. That said, maybe it’s best to wait until you can sit at The Laurelhurst with a beer and no kids? It’s totally worth seeing on the big screen though.

  12. Irene Zion says:

    Gloria,

    This is both sad and uplifting at the same time.
    I’m sort of scattered as to what to say.
    I’m glad I read it, though.

    • Gloria says:

      Hi Irene. Glad the uplifting part came through, too. ‘Cause that’s how I felt at the end of the night. For sure.

      Has your door arrived yet?

      • Irene Zion says:

        Gloria,
        Not yet.
        I’m hoping it comes and the movers walk in the house with it and secure it somewhere while I’m out, so it’s not my fault there’s no room for it.

  13. dwoz says:

    Though Hermione has no spell “Vitae Reparo” in her portfolio, there’s one that is essentially the same, “Spousem Experiamus.”

  14. It’s funny how randomly things can enter our lives and limn our relationships, suddenly taking on great meaning when it could just have easily been something else. What if your daughter had become enamored with a different book, or video game? How would your life be different? I’ve never read any Harry Potter, or seen the films. I’m not entirely sure why. Probably for the same reason I was the last person on earth to get a cell phone. But, your piece made me think what a touchstone Mad Men is for my wife and I. Just a piece of pop culture that we seem to talk about a lot and draw parallels from.

    • Gloria says:

      Good point, Sean. And, honestly, I’m glad that it was Harry Potter – or any book that has had such a long, successful life of its own. It’s heartening, really, to see these characters, actors, children grow up together. In some ways I feel endeared to them the same way I do Sierra’s two closest childhood friends, both of whom still call me frequently to check in or to find motherly comfort from me. I’m only 34, but I’ve had a chance to experience early in life – during a huge chunk of my own maturation – what most people are doing in their middler age. (Middler isn’t a word, but should be.)

      It took me a while to get a cell phone, too. And I still played cassette tapes into the 2000s – until my last batch was stolen from my car one night. I get it.

      Mad Men is great. I’m glad you two have that. It’s not that old, though – I guess I assumed you two had been together a fairly long while.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Sean!

  15. Tawni says:

    I have never read the Harry Potter books. The awesome mother of an ex-boyfriend once gave me the second one in the series, but I needed to read the first one before I started it, and that never happened. My four-year-old is reading at a third grade level now though, so I may be getting into them sooner than I imagined. He also called his father a “wicked boy witch” out of the blue the other day. Seems like he might be interested in tales of sorcery. (:

    This piece made me feel sad for Sierra. I know they can’t learn from our mistakes; that they have to live it to learn it, just like we did. But it is so hard to watch. Sometimes, when I talk to people in their twenties, I feel a huge rush of empathy wash over me. They are so sweet and clueless that I just want to hug them. I want to protect them from life; to keep that sparkle of innocent light glowing in their eyes forever. *sigh*

    Great, thoughtful piece, G-Rated. xoxo.

    • Gloria says:

      Oh, T-Money – your little ginger guy will love them. Though, I have to say that T and I lost interest by the middle of the fourth book. That’s when all the kids start dealing with hormones and crushes and the boys – especially Tolkien – were having none of it.

      “Do we haaaaaaaaaave to read? It’s boooooooorrrrrriiiiiinnnnnnnnnnggggggg!”

      “But we’ve read 350 pages so far! We’re only halfway done with the book.”

      Calvin and Hobbes won out and we haven’t gone back. Oh well. So, Miles will likely enjoy the first part of the story, but once the love junk starts, you’ll have to perform the story in costume to keep it interesting – like all romance. 🙂

      Sierra will be okay, T. You and I are. We all make it. Sometimes there’s just a long arc.

      Thanks for reading your gorgeous lady.

      • Tawni says:

        Ah, crushes. Makes me think about Zara’a wonderful piece about crushes. I love that one.

        Miles already has a crush on a girl at school; a pretty brunette named Paiton. She has a boyfriend, he sadly complains. I told him, “Maybe they will break up, and then you can be her boyfriend,” and he replied, “But Mom, she’s been with him for years and years.” I rolled my eyes and said, “She hasn’t been alive for years and years, son.”

        There’s also a little girl in his kindergarten class that likes him, but he only likes her as a friend. Her mother tells me that she talks about her boyfriend Miles all of the time, and I feel so guilty. It’s going to be odd to witness romance from the other (male) side when he gets older.

        Man, this stuff starts young. I had completely forgotten!

        • Tawni says:

          Zara’s, I meant. Mor kaffeine, pleeze.

        • Gloria says:

          Oh my god – that is so cute it makes me want to squeal.

          Tolkien had a girlfriend in Kindergarten, too. He has a girlfriend now as well. I think that he’s interchanging the word “girlfriend” with “best friend,” though. It’s different though. Not to generalize too much, but it seems like 8 year old boys think about girls differently than 5 year old boys. The gross factor finally enters the equation. Like, both of the boys love girls as friends and will play just as rough and tumble with either sex – as long as they can keep up. But the merest suggestion of romance makes my guys’ faces twist up like they’ve just smelled something rotten and they say, “Ew!” Either that, or Indigo says (very matter of factly and lawyerly), “Mom, I don’t want to talk about this. Let’s talk about something else.” So I just don’t bring it up. It was different with Sierra for sure – she couldn’t wait to tell me about her latest crush. Little boys are weird alien animals – but way fun.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I thought both boys and girls went through a period of “Yuck!” with regard to the opposite sex.

          I’m unequipped to speak about Harry Potter. I read the first couple of chapters of the first book, which weren’t for me. I don’t think I was ever much for fantasy, even when I was a child, though I did go through a long horror phase, which isn’t quite the same.

          For Thanksgiving, I was at a friend’s house, and another guest had a six-year-old daughter (or maybe she’s five) who has a crush on Elvis Presley, so after dinner, we all watched Viva Las Vegas at her request. I love that she’s in love with Elvis. I think that most kids (as well as adults) are so rooted in their own time that they tend to regard anything that came way before as irrelevant — and even a child of five (or younger) can tell the difference between something new and something old, I think. The only bad part about watching the movie with her was that I kept wanting to talk during it — to point out this detail or that one. That’s why, in many ways, I prefer to see movies alone: because I’m tempted to comment and so can fully concentrate.

        • Gloria says:

          Duke – I love the fact that that little girl loves Elvis – and that all of you adults indulged her crush by watching Viva Las Vegas. So much fun; I would have had a great time, too.

          As for girls going through an Ew phase – I can only speak to my experience. I, personally, never experienced it. I used to fist fight a lot – boys and girls, until the boys outgrew me. But I also French kissed for the first time in second grade. (And then sort of never stopped.) My daughter never went through an Ew phase either.

          I think horror and fantasy are two sides of the same coin, no?

        • Dana says:

          Duke,
          I’m almost certain girls never go through an “ick” period regarding boys.
          At least not this girl.

          Savvy young girls may PRETEND to not be interested so they can maintain or develop a friendship, or maybe they’re just shy — but no, not repulsed at the thought of boys.

        • Tawni says:

          Duke:

          I never went through a “Yuck, boys!” phase either. In the first grade, I had a neighborhood boyfriend (he was a year or two older than me… I was tall) who taught me how to French kiss. I remember having crushes on boys all through grade school. They were never icky, just bewilderingly intimidating objects of desire I had no idea how to approach.

          My first best friend was a boy my age who lived across the street. He was firmly in the friend zone, and we never kissed. But we did ride our bikes together a lot.

          Elvis Presley is a great first crush. That is so cute. (:

  16. Simone says:

    Firstly, Gloria, I love your kids names. It must’ve been fun finding those names and giving them to each of them.

    Secondly, I admire you for going through so much and still remaining one of the nicest and most humbling people I’ve ever met (online, of course). Your strength shines through.

    Thirdly, I haven’t read one of the HP books in the series. Not one. But I’ve seen two or three of the movies. I liked them. Your post makes me think that I should probably pick up the books before watching the rest of the series.

    ***

    “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” ~Steven Kloves (screenplay), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 2004, spoken by the character Albus Dumbledore

    • Gloria says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Simone. They’re totally undeserved, but thanks all the same. 🙂

      My kids names: I got Sierra’s name by driving behind a pickup truck called a Sierra. As for the boys, I didn’t know I was having twins until a week before I gave birth – nor did I know the sex of my baby. I had a little girl’s name all ready to go – Lily Antonia. My husband and I couldn’t decide between Tolkien James and Indigo Albert for our boy’s name – but when we suddenly found out we were going to have two boys any day, we didn’t have to decide anymore. Tolkien was picked because Jim had just finished reading the trilogy for the fifth time and the books were lying on our nightstand. Indigo is a bastardization of the Spaniard’s name in The Princess Bride, and we both agreed that the name carried some good mojo. We also agreed that we didn’t want them to be one of seven other little boys with the same name ever.

      I highly recommend reading the books. They’re easy and fun – and yes, the final reveal is so much better to read before you watch.

  17. Stefan Kiesbye says:

    Gloria, I finally saw the movie too, so no more fear of spoilers. I normally do hate these dance scenes, but it was a weirdly light, nostalgic moment. Actors mixing with their characters, but not in a bad way at all.

    I have so many questions after reading your essay. Mostly about Sierra. Where is she? Married and with child? Do you see each other?

    Life is really sad and silly. So much upheaval and then we’re just getting old.

    • Gloria says:

      The dance scene was so sweet. Nicely played, excellent pacing.

      Sierra is married. Logan, my grandson, is 7 1/2 months old. They live in Portland. I don’t see them often.

      Life is really sad and silly. So much upheaval and then we’re just getting old. <—- So nicely said, Stefan.

      Previously, the working title for my memoir was Excerpts From Ally Sheedy’s Purse, but I’ve recently changed it to Fits and Starts. I think they both work.

      • Stefan Kiesbye says:

        Ally Sheedy? Why her? Am I totally sitting on my brain? I am, am I not?

        • Gloria says:

          It’s a rather obscure reference to the scene in The Breakfast Club where Allison dumps her purse out for Bender and Johnson – which is what writing my memoir felt like at first. 🙂

  18. Dana says:

    Beautiful and bittersweet, Gloria. I read all the HP books because THEY’RE FUN! Even the names are fun — Dumbledore and muggles and Hermione and “send me an owl” and the sport of quidditch. They’re like the Twilight series, except good. If I had children they would definitely be reading these books.

    It’s amazing how much can change in just 10 years. The life you had, so different now. In a way it’s quite sweet that you’ve had the series accompany you through trials and somehow keeping time.

    • Gloria says:

      Did you see Nathaniel’s link, above:
      http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/a1c04ce68e/i-am-harry-potter

      So funny.

      Keeping time. Yes. Sean says above that Mad Men is the bit of pop culture that has essentially kept time for him and his wife. For each couple, each dynamic, it’s different. And if not a movie or a book, maybe a tree. There are several of these for me. My ex-husband planted a mimosa tree from a seed the year we met. It’s now a full grown tree in his front yard. But the Harry Potter series is the one thing that was mine, Jim’s, and Sierra’s. Ten years changes everything.

  19. Greg Olear says:

    A touching post, Gloria, and well-timed, as our kids began watching the first film two weeks ago. (I don’t care for the books, but I like that the kids like Harry, and that Dominick now wants to read the books).

    It’s interesting to watch the first film now, as those kids, like yours, have grown so much. I read that Emily Watson was only told recently by her parents that she was rich…they didn’t want her to go Lohan and all. Seems to have worked…

    • Gloria says:

      I seriously hope that my own mom pops up sometime soon to inform me that I’m actually rich, but she’d been withholding the information to keep me humble.

      I’m ready now, Mom! I can handle it! Please? PLEASE?!

  20. Just sent you a private email response cause I have *yet* to get my brave-woman-writer thing going, but here I am to publicly declare this piece lovely and amazing! Haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure to see it solo as per my usual 😉

    • Haven’t seen The Deathly Hallows yet, that is …

      • Gloria says:

        Thanks for your sweet comment and your email.

        You know, I thought of you when I wrote this, Cynthia. I thought: I have to hurry and get this out before that Cynthia lady gets her own review out, which will be way better and far more thorough than this, thereby rendering this piece irrelevant! You’re a hard act to compete with Lady Cinema. 😉

        • Little did you know there was no rush there. I am SO behind on my movie viewing, it sort of makes my stomach churn with anxiety just to think of it! I’ll have to pull some double features to catch up. I’m glad I didn’t put together a review of HP because yours is much more eloquent and meaningful than what I would have managed.

          I’ll warn you now, though — I’ve got my eyes on the Coens’ True Grit. Loved the original when I was a kid. There were so few classic westerns that attempted any connection with girls — maybe that one, The Searchers, and possibly Shane (even though that one was a little boy). Later, Pale Rider. Surely the Coens can’t fail me!

      • Gloria says:

        You can totally have True Grit (which I didn’t even know about, but am kind of exceited to hear, and feel the same way about Shane), but I guarantee you I’ll be taking on Tron: Legacy. There’s a good chance that I’ll be at the midnight showing of that one – which I haven’t done since Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman and Keanu Reeves (tee hee hee) came out. My dork is hanging out all over the place over the new Tron. I don’t know if I have the mad skilz to write an actual review, but maybe we can talk OL about a tandem conversation type thingy. That is, if you’re interested.

        TRON! Woot!

      • Gloria says:

        Speaking of westerns for girls, I sat down randomly in front of the tv the other Saturday (which I may do one Saturday of the year, no exaggeration), and I happened upon The Quick and the Dead. Holy shit, Cynthia! That’s a super fun movie! Who knew? (I didn’t finish it, I was in the middle of six projects and my water heater blew, but the first 20 minutes were awesome.)

        • Ah, Sharon Stone as a bad ass! Where has she gone? Also, my introduction to Russell Crowe. This is a very good thing.

          Re. Tron: Legacy. Holy shit, Gloria! Were we somehow separated at birth? (And how twisted is it that I thought Gary Oldman was super hot in Dracula? I mean, when he wasn’t wearing the prosthetic butt head. He’s the reason I’d seen this movie so many times.) Okay, YOU should totally cover Tron’s awesomeness because I know you have mad skilz and then some, but I would absolutely do a sort of co-review type thing if you’d like. That’d be fun!

  21. Matt says:

    It’s been ten years since those books started coming out? Holy crap!

    Confession: I’ve never read the books. I saw the first movie, and nothing about it inspired me to have any further contact with the world of Harry Potter. But still, this is lovely, if bittersweet. Kudos.

    I’ve been a bit lucky, I suppose, that the majority of my pop culture pleasures haven’t really overlapped with those of any of my exes or family members I’ve been on the outs with; in the few cases there were, I’m either possessive enough to claim them for solely as my own afterwards (example: Deadwood) or so burnt out that I’m fine with never indulging in them again (zombie movies). Though who knows what bit of cultural ephemera will serve as the bonding point in my next relationship…

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      No way, man – it’s been thirteen years! A trip, huh?

      That’s funny – the thought of dividing up pop culture like you do friends or possessions. “Okay, you can have the Hoover, Jackie and Stan, and Enterprize, but I get the Electrolux, Katie and Justin, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” 🙂

      Thanks for reading, Matt!

      (P.S. I hope your own Thanksgiving turned out better than it started, or that you passed out peacefully in a NyQuil induced haze.)

  22. Becky Palapala says:

    Sorry I’m so late to this. Holiday intervened. Also, I’ve struggled to think of something I haven’t already said.

    Now that I’m plain old just struggling to think, I’ll just repeat myself.

    This is a thoughtful, elegant snapshot, both of you and your experience and of the ways in which pop culture isn’t universally trash.

    Like, it is what we make of it. It’s part of who we are, a shared reference point, etc.

    • Gloria says:

      I am a regular defender of the value of pop culture – just as much as I’m a regular nay sayer about the same thing. Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right. (~Ani DiFranco)

  23. Lana Fox says:

    Yes, I sing the praises of pop culture too, and enjoy being a part of it. And this article is quite beautiful, Gloria. I saw the movie last week and was moved, as you were, by the dance scene. But my, your own story makes it all the more poignant. Peace.

    • Gloria says:

      Peace to you, too, Lana. Thanks for reading.

      And be honest – how stoked are you for part II? 😀

    • Gloria says:

      Holy cats! I just looked at your website and I love it. I’m on little boy duty right now, but plan on exploring it fully when I have a moment. So rad!

  24. Richard Cox says:

    This is a touching and meditative piece. For some reason it reminds me of the pacing and emotion of “Digging in the Dirt.” You weaved through tenderness and love and sadness with ease. Very well written. Hope you had a nice holiday.

    I’ve never read any of the books or seen the films. I know I should. I just have such an aversion to even the slightest fantasy-style fiction because I burned myself out on it when I was a D&D fan as a kid. I haven’t even read SK’s The Eyes of the Dragon. And I haven’t finished the Dark Tower series either.

    • Gloria says:

      I still can’t believe you never finished the Dark Tower series. Okay, full disclosure: neither did I.

      You were a D&D fan? How come I didn’t know this? I would point and laugh at you, but between 8th and 9th grade, I ran with a group of girls and we all believed we could be witches if we studied The Necronomicon and ancient Wiccan texts and we stole a lot of hair for various potions – so I have no room to laugh. (That was in Guthrie, by the way 🙂 )

      My holiday was great. I hope yours was nice too. Hope your mom is better.

      Only Christmas to go, then we’re past all this nonsense for another year! Woo! (The boys and I are going to buy a tree next weekend.)

  25. Gloria! Finally saw Deathly Hallows today. I agree with you about the performances, and it marks the first time I haven’t caught myself judging their acting during the movie. I was just enjoying their characters. Through the series, though, that bunch has worked with some of the most phenomenal actors in the business, so they’ve had some great mentors to learn from, one would think. I read once that Gary Oldman in particular took it upon himself to school Radcliffe. How awesome would that be!? AND you were right on with your analysis of that dance scene. So moving.

    • Gloria says:

      Gary Oldman taking Radcliffe under his wing would be like David Sedaris taking me under his wing. Or Joyce Carol Oats. Or… Well, yeah. I see how amazing it is. Glad you saw it. Glad you liked it. Still licking my lips at the idea of co-writing a Tron critique. Woot!

  26. Marni Grossman says:

    This is heart-breaking, Gloria. I hope the rest of your holidays are peaceful!

  27. […] As Eliot measured life in coffee spoons, she uses Harry Potter book and movie releases. […]

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