The Final Harry Potter = The Death of My Childhood.

18 07 2011

I just got home, after seeing the final Harry Potter movie with my husband.

It was, in a mere word, epic.

Truthfully, it was probably one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. The characters came alive in this movie, and the contrast between good and evil was so strong that it gave me the chills. The humor was perfect, the action magnificent, and the conclusion was a tear-jerker. I loved every moment.

Heck, even the cynical reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 97% approval rating.

But I found myself troubled and perplexed at the end of the movie, as the credits rolled across the screen. I couldn’t really put my finger on it until I got to the car and started to drive home:

With Harry meeting his inevitable conclusion, I must face the reality that my childhood has now disappeared.

In a very real sense, I grew up with Harry Potter. I stumbled across the first book in the series when I was going into eighth grade, right after my family had uprooted from central Illinois to live in the Twin Cities. It was my first summer–a cold summer, at

Me with my family, when I was 13.

that– in a brand-new place, where I knew no one. While I made friends quickly when school started, Harry and his friends were my comfort in that first strange summer in Minnesota when I had nothing but pesky mosquitoes and my faithful dog to comfort me.

In high school, I awaited eagerly for each new book in the series. My friends and I went to nearly every midnight screening for each new movie–even when it meant we had to go straight from a graduation ceremony to the theater, still dressed in our formal attire.

In college, I read and reread the books. When a family friend gave me a brand-new copy of the last book while I was home on break, I stayed up all night reading it.

While in various classes in college, my friend Stephanie and I even came up with an entire character cast using all of the people at our university as subs for Rowling’s characters.

I was working at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, when it was announced that they had gained the rights to the Harry Potter theme park. I saw the celebration and pride first-hand, and I marveled that I got to be a part of it.

In the last few years, as I’ve worked as a youth leader, I’ve loaned out my copies of the movies to hoards of kids. I’ve talked about the books and the movies more times than I can count, and I’ve even watched the movies with teenagers in my apartment.

Harry Potter has been a constant in my life in the last twelve years. It’s outlasted my favorite sweaters, the framed pictures I thought I’d never put in a box, and my favorite CDs. It’s outlast three generations of iPods, two laptops, and my digital cameras. It’s outlasted my boyfriends, several homes, my first car, my childhood pets, five drastically different hair colors, countless vision prescriptions, four years’ worth of roommates, and my best friends.

It’s lasted longer than nearly everything else in my life, really. The only things that even come close are my Anya Hindmarch bag and my Rainbow sandals (eight years and six years, respectively).

And now–it’s over.

I know this seems melancholy. And it’s very personal. But after all, my blog ultimately my place to share my own thoughts, unfiltered. I think the world would be a much better place if we could actually share our true feelings, fears, and joys with each other. So I guess that’s what I’m doing: sharing my truth, even when it’s not so rosy or politically correct.

I can’t be the only one who has faced this–the death of childhood and the road into adulthood. However, it feels like I’m alone in it since no one has ever really been honest enough to tell me that this is what it’s like (similar to how no one would confess to how horrific soccer tryouts would actually be in high school, really).

This feeling that my carefree days are totally behind me….the knowledge that my life now consists of tracking and paying bills, taking dogs to the vet, working, and making dentist appointments…

Peter Pan sure had the right idea, I tell you.

It’s not that I want to prolong my adolescence, by any means. I’ve always been ready to grow up–whether it was tackling Jane Eyre at ten, flying alone across the country at twelve, writing my autobiography at thirteen, moving across the country at eighteen, or handling a hall of forty residents at nineteen.

I guess this just seems like the final blow to my childhood.

Kind of that “Holy cow, I’m actually an adult” moment.

Sure, there are plenty of perks to being an adult. For one, I get to buy whatever I want at the grocery store–I don’t have to convince my mother that I really need it.

Also, I get to burn candles whenever I want–despite the fact that my brother and I set my trashcan on fire once and I was banned from ever owning candles again.

But secretly, I sometimes wish I could go back to my carefree days twelve years ago–back when my biggest worry was finishing Harry Potter before sunrise.


The Curse of Having Adorable Pets.

14 07 2011

Last week, my husband and I took a quick trip up to visit my family in the Twin Cities. We packed every day full of activities, namely seeing all of the family members we haven’t seen lately. It was a wonderful, relaxing trip–a highlight of which was our jaunt to the Art Fair on the Square in Madison, Wisconsin.

It’s been a family tradition of ours since I was young to enjoy this art fair, one of the nation’s largest and best. It’s held in the heart of downtown Madison, centered around the capitol’s lush lawns. My parents are avid art collectors, and have collected a plethora of unique sculptures and paintings from this fair over the years.

I’m an avid print-collector at this point.

What? Church workers don’t make a whole lotta scratch, you know.

Suffice it to say we met a lot of artists, and then disappointed them when we settled for buying a $45 print instead of the original oil painting marked $5500.

But hey–maybe someday my husband will pull a Joel Osteen and I’m forgo weekly manicures in favor of having hand-crafted art in my home.

Tyler and I noticed a strange phenomenon happening to us while we were at the art fair, however:

People were drawn to our two dogs–who were with us the whole time–like bees to honey.

Or Hagermans to artwork.

It started before we even left the parking garage. We were walking down the steps to cross the street, and a family squealed in delight and made a beeline straight to our

Tucker and Bonzer, hanging out at the park....

dogs. Our dogs are a bit shy at first–as Australian Shepherds are naturally cautious dogs–but they warmed up quickly to these strangers.

By the time we actually stepped foot in the art fair, we had stopped about seven times for people to pet the dogs.

It was then that we noticed a trend:

Every single conversation went exactly the same way:

Random Strangers: (loud squeal of delight and/or loud exclamation) “LOOK! Ohmygosh, they are SO CUTE!”

Us: (smile, knowing that they weren’t talking about us, but our dogs) “Thanks.”

Random Strangers: “What kind of dogs are they?”

Us: “They’re toy Australian Shepherds.”

Random Strangers: “Ohmygosh, can I pet them?”

Us: “Sure.”

Random Strangers: “Oooooooo……hello, puppies! You’re so cute!”

Us: (standing there awkwardly, as strangers pepper our dogs with hugs and kisses)

Random Strangers: “I’ve never seen this kind of dog before!”

Us: “Yeah, they’re a fairly rare breed. Just like the standard-sized Aussies, they just breed the smaller ones until they’re little like this.”

Random Strangers: “They are so cute.”

Us: “Thanks.”

Random Strangers: “What are they called, again?”

Us: “Toy Australian Shepherds.”

Random Strangers: “They’re cute. You know, I have a dog too. He/She’s a (insert dog breed) named (insert kitschy dog name). He/She’s a great dog.”

Us: “Oh….great.”

Random Strangers: “Yeah. I just love dogs. But yours are SO CUTE!” (resume frantic petting as dogs hop around on their back legs, enjoying the attention)

At this point, the random strangers did one of three things:

1) They thanked us and walked away, waving and staring at the dogs with a smile on their faces until we were out of sight

2) Continued to squat down, petting the dogs, telling us about how great their dog(s) are, or

3) Asked us the name of the breed again, and then asked us to describe the temperament of the dogs and how to find the breeders we purchased them from, as they’re interested in getting one themselves.

We estimate that at least 100 people stopped and had this exact conversation with us over the course of the day. It never varied, really–but it was still enjoyable to have the most popular dogs of the whole fair walking around with us.

Oh, the curse of having adorable pets.