Friday, July 15, 2011

Suffering from PPD

I have to admit. Today I am suffering from PPD, or: Post Potter Depression.

Yes, last night my family and I went to the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II. And so an unexpectedly huge chapter of my life has come to a likewise unexpectedly sad close.

Has it been 12 years already?

It's hard to believe that it has been almost twelve years since we first encountered Harry Potter (the books) and began reading them with our then 3 year old son. We came late to the party, and thanks to J.K. Rowling's psychotically fast writing pace, there were already 2 books on the shelf and one soon to be released when we started reading in 1999. And, rumor had it, there was talk of a movie on the way.

My how time flies.

The ties that bind.

And so with 3 children now, aged 15, 12 and 9, I find myself looking back on more than a decade of a single solitary unifying feature of our lives together: the next Harry Potter "something."

There was always a new book on the horizon, or a next film to be anticipated. Even after the Deathly Hallows book was released (and read over, and over, and over) there were films to wait for - and talk about, and guess about, and discuss what might be new in this film - or what might be left out. Who would be the winners or losers. Which cast members would we see. Would the house elves return for a larger role, or would their memory be all that we got.

Oh, the wonder. On each book and movie release we were amazed at the never-ending treasure of magical fantasy it brought to our lives.

We always had something to dream about, or go back and re-check to be sure we had our facts straight before the next film came out. We must have listened to the complete Book 7 on tape three times while waiting for DH1 and DH2 to come out (In fact we just listened to it again during 20 hours of driving on vacation in June) - and that was after reading the book twice.

We watched our kids grow up - and remember some of it through various Harry Potter references: Was that photo of little Dumbledore from Halloween or when we went to the midnight book release all decked out? Was that the Christmas we got the 4 DVD collectors set? Remember planning a vacation around being up at 3am and in line for 4 hours to be one of the first into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios the weekend it opened? Remember how we planned our day around hiking back to the Three Broomsticks to get Butterbeer?

Remember going to see the Midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows part II?

This last one however is bittersweet. We've waited a long time for this. And..., now it's gone. Finished.

It doesn't matter if the movie didn't exactly match the book (something that drives my wife and son mad). It doesn't matter who was left out and who wasn't or what little detail was changed. None of the usually arguable minutia matter today because, well, it's all over.

No more anticipation. No more mystery. No more dreaming of what may come. Only memories.

And even as Neville Longbottom says in the final film, that those that leave us are never really gone but live on in our hearts, somehow that doesn't seem enough to keep the same kind of joy alive that we've had for ten years. But what was especially unexpected was that the feeling struck without warning, and immediately upon the final credits appearing onscreen. I for one wanted, and expected to end with a feeling of fantasy and anticipation like I had all along.

The final movie, while a fine movie in its own right, could never be expected to fulfill such a burden. What it does is end with a fitting commentary of life and youth: that life goes on, and we must grow up and move on.

We've all grown up over twelve years (children and adults alike), and so we will need to move on from what Harry Potter has meant to us for more than a decade, and get to the business of living the rest of our lives with only the memory of how it was the first time we read the book or saw a film.

And while there will be a thousand new joys we'll experience, somehow - maybe only for today - it seems just a little bit more sad without the anticipation of the next Harry Potter something to anticipate.