Thursday, July 14, 2011
My intense love affair with magic began before the author of the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling, even learned to write in cursive. I can pinpoint the exact moment I became hooked – it was the first time I sat down in front of our ugly console television and tuned in to watch “Bewitched”. You remember the lovely Samantha Stevens, don’t you? She was the blonde-haired witch living the good life in suburbia with her anxious, non-magic husband, Darrin, and a host of wizarding relatives who always seemed to pop in unannounced. (Dr. Bombay was my favorite.) Each week there would be a witch or warlock throwing a stick into the Stevens’ best laid plans, and madcap hilarity would always ensue. With one twitch of her perky nose, Samantha could make nearly anything possible. That’s what I wanted. That’s why I fell in love with magic.
As silly as it sounds, pretending to be magic made my childhood seem a little less dysfunctional. I lived in an elaborate fantasy world where I could snap my fingers during those long, hot summers and escape from our tiny un-air conditioned house to a beautiful place with lush, green lawns, sparkling swimming pools, and parents who didn’t have to labor in dead end jobs for a paltry salary. I would climb into bed at night and rest my head on the sill of my open window, hoping to catch a stray warm breeze while staring up at the stars and dreaming of what it would be like to be able to utter an incantation and, all at once, make everything better. In my wizarding world, there was plenty of money to pay the bills, siblings didn’t run away from home, and I never, ever had to eat liver.
I would use my make-believe magic for small things, too, like getting rid of my dreaded freckles or giving myself long, thick blonde hair or treating my wardrobe to an extreme makeover. I could wiggle my nose like Samantha Stevens and, in an instant, I had every Barbie Doll and Barbie Doll accessory on the market. I was a very busy pretend witch.
I never truly outgrew the whole “wanting to be magic” thing, so it was no surprise that when Harry Potter hit the scene, my love of wizardry was re-kindled. His tale was even more appealing to me because it was my childhood dream come true. Here is a boy who lived an oppressive life with relatives who resented his very existence, and then, out of the blue, Harry is told that he is actually a wizard who gets to trade in his miserable “cupboard under the stairs” for a castle with talking paintings and flying cars that drive themselves. I guess the down side is that he has a Dark Lord trying desperately to kill him, but to have a working magic wand and a broomstick that really flies, I might just consider the whole trying-not-to-get-murdered thing a necessary evil. I guess it can’t always be sunshine and butterflies, even if you do have magical powers.
I have immersed myself in the Harry Potter culture. My kids have the Gryffindor robe and hat, along with the entire library of movies. (Of course, the books are better.) I soaked up the lives of these young wizards as if they were part of my family, and in the ultimate act of complete geekiness, I even have the Harry Potter app on my phone.
Just as when I was a child, getting absorbed into this magical world allows me to escape for a while from the Real World with its wars, murdered toddlers, and an economy lingering in the crapper. I think how much fun it would be to actually have an invisibility cloak, especially when it’s time to unload the dishwasher or clean up dog poop, and who among us wouldn’t love to get their hands on a time turner, making it possible to go back to high school to fix our stupid fashion mistakes?
Like Samantha Stevens did decades ago, Harry Potter adds a little bit of whimsy and adventure to a grown-up life that is mostly humdrum and predictable. So, if you promise not to mock my love of all things wizard, I swear I won’t judge you for falling in love with a brooding young vampire…