I really wish I could fully love October. I love the cooler-but-still-warm and windier weather, the changing colors of leaves, piles of raked leaves that look oh-so-tempting to jump into, Halloween, and justified purchases of candy corn and especially those candy corn pumpkins that are made of pure diabetes. However, October is also a sad month for me — though, to be fair, I guess mostly the beginning of it. October 11, 2005, my aunt died. October 6, 2007, my father died. Someone I know lost her brother on Halloween of 2008.
That having been said, because this does have a point, this year I will observe my dad’s death-iversary by living my regular Wednesday routine, going through my two classes as per usual, maybe with a nap in between. The night of October 6 will be a good one for me, however, as the mid-season premiere of South Park comes on at 9pm then. What a nice end to an otherwise somber day. And, talking about this with Charity earlier this week, it got me thinking about how two of my favorite things were there or are there for me to turn to when I’m otherwise tempted to mope around.
The first: Harry Potter.
I practically grew up with Harry Potter. I was one, maybe two, years younger than Harry in the first book when I finally gave in and read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, a gift from my best friend and a book I’d previously scoffed at, claiming it was “a kid’s book” (what I’d like to know is what I thought I was at 9 or 10). And I was immediately drawn in. I was skeptical about the sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and while I didn’t like it as much as the first, it was still wonderful.
I was nine when Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite) came out, and ten or eleven when I finally obtained and read it (I didn’t actually keep dates recorded, imagine that) but I was close enough to the age of Harry in PoA (13) to feel connected somehow. It helped that Harry’s birthday is July 31, when mine is July 27, so I felt a kindred spirit in the fictional character who’s also a Leo. While I read Goblet of Fire when I was eleven, I still felt close enough to Harry, Ron, and Hermione in age to relate.
I began writing tons of fanfiction (haters gonna hate), after being introduced to the possibility of Harry and Hermione forming a romantic relationship (I don’t even care, I still wish it had happened) through a series of stories by Mena Baines — I even still remember her web address, that’s how many times I read them. But between GoF and Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the seven-book series, there was a three-year lull as JKR penned the 870-page behemoth that would become OotP. And by then, I was almost fourteen, and just as hormonal as Harry was at age fifteen in that book. I sped through OotP and read it in twenty-two hours.
By the time Half-Blood Prince (my second favorite installment) came out, I’d finally caught up to the trio’s ages (well, Hermione’s a year older than them because of her late birthday — see how deep my nerdiness goes?) just shy of a few days; I turned sixteen that same summer. And finally, this brings me full-circle back to the point I’m making all along — the release date of the final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows coinciding with an extremely significant time in my life.
DH was released 21 July 2007, six days before my eighteenth birthday, the summer after my high school graduation, the same summer of my dad’s illness and chemotherapy trips. The final book in the series is filled with deaths (many of which I feel were unnecessary and almost arbitrary on the part of JKR, as if she drew their names from a hat) and the greatest struggle of the trio but especially Harry, an orphan who has to deal with finally defeating the Dark Lord forever. To me, DH really embodies the modern “coming of age” story, and really came at a perfect time in my life; Harry and I got to experience together a transitory period in our lives and deal with the inevitable loss of our loved ones.
And for a week or so (thanks to working at Starbucks, I couldn’t read it as quickly as I wanted, but still read in the drive-thru or behind the register; few things come between HP and me), while I plodded my way through the book, I could cry about a favorite character dying (which happened, ugh, thanks JKR) or Harry’s emotional outbursts and not about my own situation. It really was an escape, but through DH I also found a sort of connection I hadn’t really had with any of the other books. And while I was almost entirely unhappy with the ‘epilogue’ (another bad decision on JKR’s part in my opinion), the book was amazing. It left me with the inevitable void that comes with being so attached to a finite series once it ends, but still symbolizes such an important time of my life.
And that’s why the journey and growth of Harry and me through eleven years means so much to me that I will most likely get a Harry Potter-related tattoo in the future. It’s hard to explain to somebody who hasn’t loved something — a TV series, maybe, or book series, or movie or anything like that — that deeply or see it as “just a TV show/movie/book/whatever,” but I know it’s real for me.
You have no idea how hard seeing the HP films wrap up in parts one and two of the film version of Deathly Hallows will be. Unless you do, and in that case, we’re kindred spirits. Let’s hold each other in our Hogwarts outfits and sob together. (I guarantee you this will happen with Charity and me.)
How does this relate to South Park? Well, hopefully that’s obvious after the novel I wrote about loving Harry Potter. No, I did not watch every season of SP since I first caught it on TV one night (the episode “The Succubus” was the first one I ever saw, quickly followed by “Trapper Keeper”) and therefore did not truly grow up with it, but got back into it in a big way after meeting Charity and especially after moving in with her the spring semester of 2009. We watched marathons of SP online, thanks to southparkstudios.com, and just couldn’t get enough of it.
I watched more the summer of 2009 in the months I found myself without a job (which was most of the summer, I won’t lie) and kept me entertained and amused and my mind mostly off of how depressed I was that I didn’t have a job. Charity and I became moderators of a South Park community that had untapped potential to be the awesomeness it grew to under our modship, and though it’s slacked off some, especially between seasons or during mid-seasons breaks, I’ve made a few friends who have definitely made my life a better experience and who make me smile everyday (as cheesy as that sounds) through hilarious texts or relating to one another in strange ways.
So, I won’t say that South Park is my next Harry Potter, but it certainly will have a helping hand in me dealing with my grief. Thank you, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. And the biggest thank you goes to JK Rowling, for your imagination, even though you made some really terrible decisions in the end. What would I be without Harry Potter? That’s a scary thought.
I’d like to make myself believe that planet Earth turns slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
‘Cause everything is never as it seems