Just a few days ago I was turning on the lamp by the mantel and I found myself staring at a picture of her. A picture I’ve looked at a thousand times before, a picture that is in my periphery day in and day out. I flicked on the light and let out a quick cry. That’s kind of how it happens these days. Quick little cries. You mourn, and then you move on.
I got all the way to page 209 before crying for the first time.
I finished the first book. In about a month. I'm actually already well into Chamber of Secrets, but not far enough to gather any concrete thoughts about it. We can talk about that next time.
First of all, I have an amendment to make to my last post: I believe the metaphor I was grasping at was “follow me through the platform.” Not the stairs. I know that now.
OK, on to more pressing matters. I finished the first book and (pleasedontkillmeeveryonejustbecool) I still don’t know how I feel about Harry. I’m trying to connect with him the way everyone else on the planet seems to have truly, deeply connected with him, but...I kinda can’t. He still isn’t much more than a plucky underdog to me. A Saturday-morning cartoon character. An archetype that's made to be identified with, adored. Fun for a few minutes out of my day, but nothing I carry with me. He hasn’t hooked into me the way Dorothy Gale or Charlie Bucket or hell, even the Mr. Bergstrom episode of the The Simpsons has shaped my being and my world view.
It took me over 200 pages to really find any humanity in him, and that was only because we had a shared experience. I’m still not sure how authentic a connection it was; I worry I was just desperate for something to like about him, and then I feel really dumb for crying so much.
Look, I swear I am actively trying NOT to be The Girl Whose Mom Is Dead. But...I am a girl whose mom is dead.
Recently dead. And it wasn’t a clean break, either. It took a long time, and the whole process took a lot out of me — a lot more than I initially realized. My very first piece for this site was about it, actually. You can read it here.
I’m more or less over it, but, you know, you’re never over these things. Just a few days ago I was turning on the lamp by the mantel and I found myself staring at a picture of her. A picture I’ve looked at a thousand times before, a picture that is in my periphery day in and day out. I flicked on the light and let out a quick cry. That’s kind of how it happens these days. Quick little cries. You mourn, and then you move on.
But the cry that came at page 209 was not one of those cries. The cry that came at Harry’s first encounter with the Mirror of Erised was thick and wet and heaving. The first big cry I’ve had in a long, long time.
Because he got to see the family he once had. He got to be with them again. And he went back to the mirror, over and over and over, because he just couldn’t stay away.
And believe me, I know a little bit about that. It hasn’t been an easy year. I get along OK, but not as well as I thought I was getting along in the beginning. A few months back I hit a low. A LOW low. The world felt heavy and wrong and different. I started going to therapy. I eventually got put on antidepressants. They helped. A lot.
His experience with the mirror is a lot like how I have dreams about her. How sometimes I wake up crying, but also want to go back to sleep so I can hear her voice again. How I so badly want to go back to the day she died — I want to spend eternity reliving the worst day of my life, because it was the last time I saw her.
Now that the heavy-duty mourning period has passed, this whole year has been about trying to figure out how to move forward without forgetting. How to fold my memories of my mom into my daily life without spending all my time trying to wish her back into existence.
But Dumbledore warns against the dangers of getting too attached to a memory. He’s right. The past has a powerful pull. It’s not hard at all to get mired in it. I’m lucky to have pulled myself out just in time.
Boyfriend was on the other side of the room, watching a dumb YouTube video on the iPad. It took a while before he noticed.
“What happened?” he said with a bemused lilt in his voice. He read the books years ago, when they came out.
I started walking over to him. He stood up. I hugged him hard.
“Let me guess,” he said. “Did Harry find a cloak?”
“Did it have to do with a tower?”
“No.” (Damnit, now I know there’s a tower coming.)
“Let’s see. Hmmm…
“Oh,” his tone darkened. “Did he find a room?” he said, softer this time.
“With a mirror in it?”
As much as I'm not impressed with Harry, I can't deny he's affected me. Maybe that’s how people find him. People see themselves in him; they project their doubts and fears onto him. Because haven’t we all had shitty things happen to us? Don’t we all want to be someone else?
Here's the other problem I'm having: I'm seeing all the characters as the actors from the movie. Even though I’ve only seen one of the films, for better or worse, they ARE their characters now. And they’re everywhere. (I mean, just look at my other work on your right rail. Chances are you’re looking at a link to an article I wrote about Daniel Radcliffe or Emma Watson). So if I'm not actively trying to imagine another person — and even sometimes when I am — poof! Rupert Grint. Not that I have a problem with Rupert Grint, it’s just...I wanted to come into this with a clean slate, y’know? It makes it kind of hard to really get attached to it. To make it my own.
So yeah. I’m not super into it, but I keep reading because every hundred pages or so something really affecting happens. Like a creepy creature chowing down on a dead unicorn in a dark forest. Or the time I got SO MAD that I just dropped Chamber of Secrets, turned to Boyfriend and shouted, "FUCK THE MALFOYS" because OH MY GOD.
Or the damn mirror.
Boyfriend pet my back, slowly, my snot collecting on his Star Wars shirt.
“I want one,” I said.
Books Read: The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets
Pages Read: 537
Best surprise: I remembered this from the first time I read it, but I love the voice. I love the snippy, slightly snarky sense of humor.
Scene I’d Like to Fast-Forward Through: Harry getting a crash-course in Quidditch. Exposition, exposition, exposition. I realize it’s probably stuff I’ll need to know for later, but reading it was about as exciting as listening to someone recount the plot of a funny YouTube video they saw instead of showing you the actual video (which is to say: incredibly dull).
Also the Sorting Hat's song. I expected magic, but I draw the line at singing hats.
Though I probably should have paid attention. Someone told me I was a Ravenclaw last week and I didn't know whether to agree or not.
Favorite Character: Hagrid seems like a chill dude.
Also I dig the centaurs. Is it uncool to like the centaurs? Should I like characters this ancillary? Is that like saying my favorite Bowie song is that weird him-and-Mick-Jagger version of "Dancing in the Street" or something? I don’t know, I like that they’re not your usual prancy-prancy, pan flute centaurs. They’re spooky and mystical and kinda creepy (they’re also the only characters I DON’T automatically attach an actor’s face to). In my mind, they’re lithe and lean and sort of translucent and have no irises.
You heard me. No irises. Just black.
Least Favorite Character: FUCK THE MALFOYS. Say it with me, friends. FUCK. THE. MALFOYS.
Quote: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”