I read my first Harry Potter Book in the Portland Maine Jetport. I was returning home from a a college board of trustees meeting. There, we raised tuition, talked about sexism in fraternities and the cost of heating a campus where snow could commence as early as November and linger until April. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was my fly by night gift to myself, a simple impulse buy along with an Oh Henry candy bar. I opened it in the terminal and never stopped reading.
Upon returning to Washington, my son Phillip, 8 at the time, began reading it. Soon, the household was smitten. All seven books were read, together and alone, aloud through summer power outages, winter storms, colds and flus. The movies soon arrived.
Tonight, preparing to catch the last installment at the Avalon, DC's oldest movie house, I stared at the gold and blue hued ceiling mural, one prominently featuring the god Mercury. I could not wait for the movie to begin, and this seemed the perfect place to wait.
The final in the last of the movie series is what you want it to be. Dazzling in action, poignant in fits and starts, and wry in places. I will always recall my life with the books and the movies with warmth, for this franchise always made me love someone or something: The magic of magic. The grey overcast patini of the castle's hills. The piled plates of colorful foods passed during school feasts. The whizzbang smarts of Hermione. The tortured personae of Severus Snape who could play double agent and never got over loving Lily Potter. And the kindly chivalrous guidance of Albus Dumbledore from earth to the grave.
Ultimately, everywhere, from the starring trio to bit performances, were complex though crisply defined characters. Each offered a verve or quirkiness that caught you off guard. The once nervous goofy boy, Neville, ultimately wields the sword that defeats Voldemort's serpent. Luna, the airy space cadet, taps eloquently into Harry's scattered energy and places him squarely on the correct path towards finding a horcrux. And Mrs Weasley thrusts aside her housewife image to slay the disturbed Bellatrix.
For me, the series will always represent, not just the clamorous clash between good and evil but the echoing view that sacrifice is vital. We are all called to defend and protect, to stick with it, while sticking together. Smarts do pay off. Love never dies. And eventually everyone grows up.
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