Potter Head

(Liya Rechtman)– In second grade I met my two first loves, a blonde pale-as-death boy in my circle group named Matt who was called Augustus, and a certain Slytherin named Draco who was called Malfoy. I remember that day more clearly than I remember any birthday; I remember it better than I remember my first kiss. In preparation to write this post, I realized that I had already written once about falling in love with a boy and a book at the same time. However, this boy and this book are very different than Philosophy Boy and Milan Kundera, so I feel okay about posting on the same theme again…

We were sitting on the Big Red Rug discussing heroes and villains with our second grade class. The theme for that section of the class was Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. (Why they devoted a month of second grade to teaching us literary paradigms, and then the next month on cows, and the next on Soviet feminism is beyond me, but I went to a weird school…) Augustus brought up the example of Draco Malfoy as a villain in a book called Harry Potter. I can still see Augustus smiling, his face turning pink from exhilaration as he drew up a whole magical universe for our class. Augustus was that kind of very pale kid who didn’t just blush a little when he spoke, his whole body turned red and you could see through his white-blonde hair that even his scalp was blushing. He (and Malfoy) were SO SO COOL.

I then proceeded to spend the next seven years of my life obsessed with Augustus and Malfoy.

A few highlights from the golden years:

1999 – I tried to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by myself, but the first chapter took me like 2 weeks, so I convinced my mom that that she should read them to me. From that point on, Harry Potter became an activity that my whole family would sit down and partake in every night for about 20 pages. My mom and dad would both act out voices. #goodfamilymemories – huh, who would’ve guessed?

2001 – Augustus and I were in the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe together. He played Edmund. I played an eagle. Are there any eagles in the script? Nope. I split lines with “ensemble #2.” And then I almost got kicked out of the cast for pushing Augustus down a set of stairs. Uncontrollable-sugar-induced fit of rage? Sure…

2002 – Unrelated, but Avril Lavigne’s first album “Let Go” came out. “Won’t you take me by the hand, take me somewhere new/I don’t know who you are but I… I’m with you!” seemed incredibly appropriate and applicable to my relationship with Augustus that existed… in my head… in the future.

2003 – I was in California the night of the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix. I was PSYCHED to wait in the ridiculously long line for the book. Unfortunately, I spent the day at the beach and then spent that night vomiting with sun poisoning. Despite this minor detail, I insisted that I WOULD be in line by midnight, vomit and all. My poor mother, hard pressed at what to do with a very angry/excited/ill kid, decided to push through the line mumbling that she was looking for someone at the front. My mother, in true Israeli fashion, skipped a line that spanned six city blocks and was the third person in Berkley California to get a Harry Potter first edition copy. Israelis don’t wait in line because we waited in enough lines during the Holocaust. (#thisisajoke) My mom is badass.

You may have noticed this by my mention of Avril Lavigne in 2002, but we are about to enter onto a dark, DARK time in the life of 13-year-old ConstantLy. I only feel comfortable writing about this now because I am fully aware that I have moved on from this period of my life. I am 19 years old, and it has been 6 years since this point in my life.

One word: FAN.FICTION

There, I said it. Fanfiction. Oh god… ach. I mean, it was fun, it was…

Honestly, I knew EVERYTHING about the Potter-verse. And it wasn’t just fan fiction, it was podcasts, forums, lexicons of Harry Potter essays (“Thoughts about Wands,” “Divination: The Theory and Practice of Prediction,” “Hagrid’s Accent” you get the idea) and details. So many details. Back in the day, I had a great memory for statistics and dates. I could have told you the birthday of every student who graduated Gryffindor before 1999, I could cite by page number (first edition, American) the places in which socks were mentioned in the first five books. Are you scared yet?

2004 – Still bad at expressing my feelings. I hung out with the nerdy boys, and Augustus hung out with the 9th graders. A rumor went around our grade that he had tried beer. At our 8th grade dance, I pushed him into a trashcan sort of by accident. And it was really a recycling bin. Either way, #awktown #middleschool.

2005 – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came out during summer camp! What?? No waiting in line for release this year, I was getting the book by mail, probably two days late, and there was nothing I could do about it. Everyone else in the world would be more than halfway through by the time I got it. The injustice of it all was overwhelming.

To make myself feel better, I wrote my own book 6 called Harry Potter and the Very Confused Aftermath. It was almost 300 pages long and everyone at summer camp read it and wrote comments on it. The one paper copy I had circulated that camp like a particularly resilient strain of lice. In my version, Neville was actually the Chosen Boy, and Ron was in love with Draco. ‘Nuff said there.

Because of the overwhelming number of books the local post office had to deliver, they actually gave all 100 or so copies to our summer camp a day early. This meant that, after all my agony, I could potentially have an extra day! I snuck into the mailroom after they had been delivered to steal my copy. This was incredibly stressful/difficult because those books, as you may remember, were big, and T-shirts on 14-year-old are pretty small. Moreover, if I had been caught, I probably would have been kicked out of camp for violating community trust. Luckily, I managed to sneak it out and I spent the whole night in the bathroom (the only place on campus with electric light at night) reading feverishly. I was sick the next day, mostly from exhaustion, but I had finished the book. When I went to the nurse and tried to explain, she guessed that I had stayed up in anticipation of the release and dubbed my sickness Harry-Potter-itis. The name stuck for the rest of the summer…

2007 – By the time the 7th book came out, I wasn’t really reading fan fiction at all anymore. I felt over saturated with Potter-verse. I knew more than anyone ever needed to know about most things, especially something that had no real bearing on my life. The movies weren’t doing it for me either. Tom Felton and Augustus didn’t really look alike, and therefore they became separate in my mind. Augustus was a real boy, a person I had had a very strange relationship with for most of my life. Draco… was only real on the page. He didn’t stare at me strangely in class. And he certainly didn’t call me names at a party and then proceed to drunkenly slam my head into a table the way Augustus did.

Anyway, there was this new boy, Pedro, in my English class who was all caramel-looking and reeked of weed and wore tie-die. Pedro was Jack Keroac. And I found myself starting the cycle all over again… #englishnerd

<3 ConstantLy