Editor's note: This article contains spoilers.
It goes deeper than many people would ever imagine.
“I raised my kids on this,” said Cynthia Silvano, a parent of three. “I mean, reading them the books as they went to sleep every night. It became a part of me and a part of them. It’s a part of our family.”
If you haven’t been a part of the culture, chances are you wouldn’t understand.
“I think I read the last book five times in less than two weeks,” said 19-year old Erin Horn. “I can’t remember how many times I read the other ones but it was a lot. I’m kind of in denial that it’s over.”
To describe the mark that Harry Potter has left on the lives of millions as ‘indelible’ is bordering on an understatement. That was proven to me at Thursday’s midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final installment of an eight-film gauntlet.
Potter fanatics packed Century Theatres at Tanforan in San Bruno in the wee hours of Friday morning, on their way to get their last taste of the book series that served as more than a chapter of their lives.
For me, it’s served as a recurring theme in a fifteen-year narrative on my life.
It’s remarkable witnessing something that enthralled you near the age of nine sticking with you into your mid-twenties.
Power Rangers was my vice from age eight to ten. Pokemon dominated the next two years. The WWF and its extensive line of wrestling action figures had a tremendous run from about 11 to 13.
But as I learned last night, Harry Potter has stood the test of time in the lives of children, teenagers, young adults, and those on the edge of the hill. All ages were on hand to essentially say their farewells.
“I bought the books for my kids but they ended up getting me into it,” said Sharon Fruta, 55-year old mother of two. “I just think it was so well-written that any age group can enjoy it and kind of lose themselves in it.”
As expected, lines to get into the each theater rivaled those of November’s Black Friday at your nearest mall.
Of course, costumes were plenty. Forehead scars, Ron Weasley wigs, Gryffindor capes and Sirius Black mustaches were all in attendance.
Once my showing began - which was delayed six minutes, much to the chagrin of my theater companions - the sentiment in the theater seemed to be ‘this is the beginning of the end’ rather than ‘this is the beginning of the movie.’
At least that’s what the shouts of ‘No!’ once the movies started signaled to me.
I felt the same feeling as I picked up the last Harry Potter novel. The feeling throughout my reading of the series was similar to visiting a partner when you’re in a long distance relationship. You can’t wait to see them, but after four days, vacation is over. You say goodbye and get back to the real world, immediately clamoring to see them again.
When it came to the last novel, you knew that this trip would be your last.
Ironic that Potter fans would flood the theater to see the last movie and yell remarks of sadness once it began. Ironic that Potter fans would read the books in one day and then sit, upset, as they wait for the next release.
As the movie trekked on - the crowd expressed relief after much-anticipated kisses between Ron and Hermione Granger and between Harry and Ginny Weasley within two minutes of each other – the same feeling that occurred when reading the books began to take hold of the theater.
Potter accomplishes his due diligence at the end of the movie in destroying Voldemort and the last novel’s epilogue is played out on screen.
A scene shows Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny as parents showing their children off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. People in the theater began to laugh at the older Harry and make jokes about his lack of a sufficient beard, but the jokes are a cover-up.
As I look around the theater, I see that people are actually sad.
“Harry Potter Eight!” yells a group of teenagers to a round of applause.
Walking out into the lobby, the conversation between those exiting next to me is one of fantasy.
“They’ll probably come back with more movies of Harry’s kids,” says one fan.
People are averse to letting go.
Upon conclusion of the final novel, I was certainly one of those opposed to accepting that it was over. But what I did accept is that like anything else in life, a lesson is learned from every closed chapter, from relationships, to Harry Potter novels.
And what Harry Potter taught me is that in today’s society, there are still things that we can hold onto and have faith.
I wish for the next generation that their version of Harry Potter is something to hold onto, whatever it may be, and provide as much for them as Harry Potter has for me, my family, and millions of families across the world.
“They’ll have something that they will latch onto,” said Tim Daley, on hand with his son but referring to his second son at home asleep, along with his generation. “If not, I guess I’ll just be buying Harry Potter books all over again.”