"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" marks the beginning of the end of the film franchise that has spanned almost a decade.

I’ve been waiting for my Hogwarts acceptance letter since I turned 11 years old. It’s a running family joke that my parents surreptitiously stole the letter and hid it in the attic to prevent me from learning the truth about my magical heritage. Maybe 21 years old is too old to be holding out for a letter from a fictional school, but since when do fantasies have to be rational?

I had moved to New Jersey from my home in New York City — I was in a place I knew nothing about and had no friends — when my mom insisted that I try to read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The 309-page book was intimidating. It looked me in the face and boasted words I didn’t know or understand. Yet somewhere between Mr. Dursley leaving for work at Grunnings and Dumbledore setting a baby Harry down on the stoop of Number Four Privet Drive, a piece of my heart was taken captive. The little boy with black hair and glasses became my friend.

The new world that Harry discovered became my refuge. I traveled to Diagon Alley with the half-giant Hagrid and whirled down in a rickety cart, into the depths of Gringotts Wizarding Bank. I raced into Platform Nine and Three-Quarters at King’s Cross Station with the redheaded Weasleys and traveled on the Hogwarts Express to a school with characters I would come to know and love.

And so my obsession began. Obsession may be a strong word — I guess it could be considered a fascination, a passion. For the next nine years my connection to Harry and his world of magic grew. It was as if the magic of the books had seeped off the pages and into my veins.

I once overheard my dad talking to my mom after a particularly stressful week of SAT preparation that involved screaming and shouting that rang through the house, followed by me slamming and locking the door to my room. I didn’t sob, I didn’t call friends or go on the Internet. I went straight to my bookshelf, grabbed “Half-Blood Prince” and commenced to read into the depths of the night.

At one point over the next few hours I unintentionally eavesdropped on my parents conversation. “You know, is it healthy for her to read the same book over and over that many times? She treats those books like drugs, whenever she’s depressed or upset she turns straight to Harry.” My mom retorted back, “At least her drug is a book, rather than you know, real drugs.” I couldn’t help but start laughing, and they heard me and started laughing as well.

The Harry Potter series is my childhood. Harry, Ron and Hermione taught me about friendship. Every life lesson I needed to know, I learned from Dumbledore. Fred and George showed me the strength of laughter and Hagrid demonstrated the strength of heart. The Weasleys displayed the importance of family. Dobby’s free spirit and perseverance expressed the power of loyalty and courage.

As soon as the film comes out, I will head over to Regal Cinema along with other UR students, as fans across the globe flock to movie theaters clad in Gryffindor house colors, draped in wizarding robes or scarred with lightning bolts on foreheads for the midnight premiere of part one of the final installment of the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

I don’t expect the films to provide an accurate reflection of the novels. That is unrealistic and would set me up for disappointment. The movie is the chance to watch the action I have built up in my imagination play out on the big screen. It is a chance to relive the experience that I had when I read the book for the first time.

Growing up with the Harry Potter books has made me an obsessive fan as well as a young woman who loves to read and write. With Harry, I’ve cried many tears, laughed until my stomach ached and shook with fear through all of his adventures. I still hold out hope that one day I will open my mailbox to find a very delayed letter from Hogwarts waiting for me.

Rosenberg is a member of the class of 2012.



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