Today we in the nerd world celebrate two incredibly important birthdays: the 50th birthday of one JK Rowling and the 35th birthday of her wonderful main character, Harry Potter.
Every year on July 31st, I celebrate. I bust out some Potter clothes, throw one of the movies on (if not all 8) and read the books. I spend the whole day thinking all about Harry Potter, and celebrating the life of the woman who created him.
Some people don’t understand. I know you guys do. You guys are here for a reason. You love books like I do. You get wrapped up in the world and the characters. Its like Snape said to Lily in those flashbacks: “its real for us”.
It’s real for us.
And that’s exactly right.
I have been lucky enough to have an incredible life. I have. I am here. I am mostly healthy. I am mostly healthy. I have clothes on my back, shoes on my feet and food in my stomach. I am surrounded by people who love me and care for me. I have this blog. I have my love and passion and dedication for writing. I am so lucky.
But I haven’t always been so lucky. I’ve been through hard things. There were days where dragging a razor across my skin felt better than anything else. There were days where I legitimately wondered, why am I even awake? There were days where I had the faces of my five younger siblings looking up at me, looking TO me, to keep them happy and safe, and fed and off to school. There were days where the water was shut off, there was no phone, no electricity. There were days where screams echoed through the walls that made me want to shove a pillow on my head or scream back. I grew up fast. I stepped up to the plate more times than I wanted to. Some days, it was just hard to get out of bed. Some days, it was just easier to skip life.
But when I was ten years old, I met an eleven year old boy by the name of Harry Potter. He was stuck in a cupboard, hungry and lonely, scared, and treated like garbage by the people that were supposedly his family. And then one day, a letter arrived for him, taking him to a magical and beautiful place called Hogwarts, and not only did Harry’s life change forever, but so did mine. Suddenly all those things that alway seemed so impossible were possible.
Those books saved my life and saved me from becoming the person I could have become. If there’s one thing I’m proud of after 27 years of life, its the person that I am. I am smart, talented, strong, resilient. I am loving and caring and open. I am trustworthy and honest and determined and passionate and dedicated. And I feel like I owe so much of that to the books that have come into my life, but especially to the Harry Potter series.
Because, here’s the thing: the Harry Potter series taught me more than any other book ever has. It taught me more than a lot of things in life have. It kept my head above water when I felt like all I was doing was drowning. It kept me from becoming a bitter, tired and defeated person. I stepped into those pages, and became friends with those characters, raced alongside them in those adventures, grew up with them, learned with them, and came out the other end with them, hopeful and happy and determined and ready. Those books taught me about love and acceptance, tolerance, to not judge a person based on their cover, to give people second chances, to know that your family isn’t always the people that share the same blood as you. Harry Potter taught me that even in the darkest of times, you can keep going, you can keep moving on, because there’s a light shining there at the end of the tunnel. That, even when things seem at the very worst, it can only get better.
I was ten years old the first time I picked up the series, and now I’m 27 years old. I have read these books a countless number of times. I legitimately cannot think of how many times I’ve read them. I go back to them again and again and again and they fill me with the same feelings that I felt when I read them as a child and a teenager. It blows my mind that something that became so important to me at ten years old is still one of the most important things in my life. I have covered my body in five Harry Potter tattoos…and I know that I will get more of them because I don’t know what other way I can say thank you to this author, to these books, to these characters for what they have done for me, for how they have shaped me, for being there for me when I felt like no one else in the world was.
So today I say, thank you JK Rowling and Happy Birthday. Thank you for being an amazing person. Thank you for creating these books and these words and these people and the magic for people all over the world to experience again and again. Thank you for being amazing. Thank you for being an inspiration. Thank you for helping me to become the Sara I am today and for continuing to shape the Sara I will be tomorrow. Thank you for getting up and getting through your own hardships. You deserve the most wonderful birthday, and the most wonderful life.
“The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
This makes me cry. Every. Single. Time. Every time.
Happy Birthday Jo. Happy Birthday Harry.