Monday, February 11, 2013

The Peanut Gallery: Growing Up With Harry Potter
I've come to a very, very happy realization in the last work or so, one that has been plaguing me since... oh, at least 1999. Long have I longed to know which Hogwarts house I belonged to and, after many years, I've finally figured it out. Ravenpuff. I am a Ravenpuff.

What is a Ravenpuff? Let me explain. I always kind of liked the idea of Hufflepuff, though I spent much of my youth trying to be anything but Hufflepuff (mainly because I was too often told that nice people are just pushovers), which I think backfired and just made me bitter and more the bad side of Slytherin for a while. But finally I have realized which house I belong to - partly because I don't clearly fit into any of the other houses, and also because of this fantastic Tumblr blog, Harry Potter house quotes, which accumulates quotes from famous thinkers, writers, etc and attributes them to each house. As I was nodding to each quote from Hufflepuff, I realized, "Hey, you know, that makes sense..." And it finally clicked for me. Although my friend Emma believes I am most definitely a Ravenclaw. I also very, very much like this house, what with its cleverness and love of books. I would probably try to argue that I'm not a Ravenclaw because I'm not that clever and find knowledge dangerous and powerful and it's impossible to know everything... which the reinforces my possible Ravenclaw-ness. And so, I would say, I'm a Ravenpuff; a bit of both. I like this compromise. And also, Ravenpuff is just really fun to say.

I was talking with my friend Danielle about this one Sunday, wondering why it had taken me so long to figure out what Hogwarts house I belonged to. As Danielle and I realized, we don't have the fortune of the wizarding world, with a sorting hat to give us guidance. We have to sort ourselves and arrive upon how we describe and think of ourselves in our own minds. Realistically, anyone could fit in any house but there's bound to be one or two that you attach yourself to because of life perspectives or philosophies or whatnot. And, after a great deal of time of figuring things out and traveling through, you figure out where you belong. Even if there was a Sorting Hat to tell us which house we belonged to, we'd probably still doubt it from time to time (like dear old Neville Longbottom).

This is all just part of a massive realization of becoming an adult and realizing how important the Harry Potter series was to my life. I couldn't have asked for better books at a better time that ended up dealing with some many topics that were so relevant to my coming of age in the late 20th/early 21st century. The way the books were staggered, I grew up with Harry (more or less; I really didn't appreciate the later books until I was well out of high school) and his age often coincided with mine. These books gave me a sense of grounding in rather troubled in times and a gleam of hope when things got grim. Even when I didn't understand Harry's angst or hated him for the way he acted, I would later understand how it actually suited my mindset or characterized things my friends or I had done. Even while the wizarding world faced issues that we Muggles haven't, there's far more overlap than you notice as a high schooler, reading them to escape and relax for a while. It's only as I've gotten older that I realize how much those books spoke to problems that I had experienced.

I find it hard to believe that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows was released over five years ago. Honestly, it makes me feel really old. I grew up with Harry Potter and now I have to accept the fact that... well, I'm an adult, more or less. It's a bit bizarre. Here recently I keep thinking about how much this books meant to me as a kid and how much I look forward to sharing them with someone else - my kids, my friend's kids, students, peers who haven't read them, anyone really. These really are the books of a generation - and I sincerely hope they're books that will be continued on through future generations.

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