When Back to the Future, Part II came out in 1989, the audience got a glimpse of what life might be like twenty-six years in the future. The city of Hill Valley, California buzzed with flying cars as holographic sharks terrorized passers-by and we learned the Cubs had at last won the World Series.
Nearly two years ago, on October 21, 2015, the rest of the world finally caught up to Doc and Marty. While flying cars never happened (and the writers missed the Cubs’ World Series win by only one year) it was strange to suddenly have this “future” date upon us. From that point forward, every part of the Back to the Future story would now be in our real life past.
Today, September 1, 2017, is another day like that. Any Harry Potter fan will instantly recognize the name of the epilogue (in both book and on film) as the date that the now thirty-seven year old Harry, Ron, and Hermione take their children to Platform 9¾ and watch as the Hogwarts Express carries a new generation northward to their own adventures. It’s the perfect ending (for both the book and the film) and I have to admit, now that the date is upon us, I’m feeling a bit introspective about the whole affair. So I thought I’d take a walk back down memory lane.
Nineteen Years Earlier
In 1998 when we still lived in Iowa, my sister Biz and her daughter Hannah came to visit. I don’t remember the exact occasion, except that a local parade took place, so I’m guessing either Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. Families and children lined the streets and many dressed up in costumes.
“Oh look!” Biz said, pointing toward a young boy. He was dressed in black robes, wore round glasses, and had a scar on his forehead.
“What?” I replied.
“He’s dressed like Harry Potter.”
“Who’s Harry Potter?”
Biz went on to describe that it was a relatively new children’s book gaining quickly in popularity. I made a mental note to look into it. Someday.
Three Years Later
By 2001 you would’ve been living under a fairly large and heavy rock to have not heard of Harry Potter. My mental note remained just that: a note as I still had not read any of the books.
It wasn’t because I couldn’t find the time. No, I actively avoided them. As I was working on writing my own fantasy novels, I didn’t want to be “polluted” by a very popular series.
But I also knew the first film would be coming out and I wanted to see it. Further, I didn’t want to see it without reading the book. So I caved in. At the very least, I would find out why people at work were debating on how the strange name of Her-Me-Own was pronounced.
I liked it. I’ll admit I wasn’t absolutely blown away by it. But I checked it off the list and went to see the movie in theaters. The movie was about as faithful a recreation of a book can be. I admit I wasn’t absolutely blown away by it. But I knew I’d be back for more.
Six Years Later
By July 20, 2007 the family had moved to Austin. I’d read the first six books in the series and just seen the fifth film. The seventh and final installment in the series was about to be released.
On Friday, July 20, we headed down to BookPeople for a book release event of epic proportions. Hundreds of fans gathered in the parking lot enjoying a dozen or so mini events taking place. I was amazed by it all. For one evening I buried deep the fact that in all this time I still had yet to finish anything of my own. I could barely picture myself getting all the way to my first “The End” let alone having upwards of twelve million people waiting for anything I wrote.
The line of buyers wound for a hundred yards or more. At exactly midnight, workers began to slice boxes open. When my turn at last came they handed over the thick, yellow-orange tome and I gripped it like a greedy child.
We got home around one or so. Everyone went to bed except me. I settled into a chair and read for about an hour until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Waking up on Saturday, July 21, the book and I got back together. I was very worried about spoilers, so I basically read the entire book in a single sitting that day: all 198,227 words of it.
Four Years Later
Summer 2011. The eighth and final Harry Potter movie is out. I found a theater playing a double feature: the six-month-old Deathly Hallows, Part 1 followed by the final film. As that iconic, dark and clouded Warner Brothers logo zoomed toward us, it was a bittersweet moment: eager to see what was going to happen but sad it was all about to be over.
Another six years have passed and here we are, September 1, 2017. It’s hard to say where the years went. Heck, I’m still struggling to figure out where just this one summer went. But I’m back to blogging. Oh, not quite as amazing as battling Lord Voldemort but it’s all cool: I wouldn’t be very good at that anyway.
See you next week!