Last updated: August 24. 2013 8:07PM - 40 Views

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By the time I met my friends for the midnight showing of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” they were already playing cards with two people next to them in line. One wore homemade Hufflepuff earrings, the other wore a cape, and despite not knowing them beforehand, our group quickly bonded over shared love of a fictional story.It was evident everyone at the midnight showing was there because they really wanted to be. The theater audience clapped when main characters were victorious, shushed those getting too loud, and stifled sobs at the sad parts. I felt free to be the geeky Harry Potter fan I was in middle school.Like the final movie, partaking in the Harry Potter series has always been a shared experience. It wasn't until my aunt gave me the first Harry Potter book as a birthday present, and I was finally bored enough to read it, that I truly became enraptured with the magical world conjured by J.K. Rowling. I recall loving the books so much I forced my younger sister to share in the experience — literally reading aloud to her at bedtime until she became interested enough to read it of her own free will.The series has been credited for getting children interested in reading, but for me, it was an introduction to the fantasy literary genre. I devoured the first few books at the end of my elementary school career, and was frustrated when I had to wait for them to be returned to the school library by other readers. Once I got to the end of the published series, the wait got even more agonizing. But as the characters and books grew more mature, I did as well. The years between book releases were spent making mistakes and gaining knowledge in junior high and high school.Then came the last and final book in July 2007. I had just graduated high school at age 17, the same age as Harry in the final book, which came out just 12 days before my 18th birthday.I attended the midnight release of the book, taking a trip to Dayton where my high school friend, an even greater Harry Potter fanatic, lived. We waited in line to receive our copies of the final book and rushed back to her apartment, each going to a different room and reading until the wee hours of morning. Call me sentimental, but closing the last book or watching the final movie's credits felt a little like leaving a place I'd grown to love. Even now as a college graduate, I can say I never lost interest in the story that began in my elementary school days. The places and characters created by Rowling were present most of my adolescent life and almost seemed to be part of it.Although Rowling's new “Pottermore” project will help keep the story from ending completely, the golden days are over. Coming generations may likely make a connection with the books and movies, but they will never have the opportunity to converge with costumed crowds and wait in anticipation for the next installment. That is why I am thankful our generation has had the honor of growing with Harry Potter.

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