Monday, July 11, 2011

It All Ends

I was walking on the Highline this past weekend, a boardwalk along the elevated train tracks on the west side of Manhattan. If there is anything New Yorkers crave it is space and the Highline demonstrates one of the most creative uses of space I've ever seen. The city took the abandoned tracks and turned it into a park. Long wooden planks form a path that spans 15 city blocks lined with runaway flowers and benches.

But, like many things in New York, it has become crowded. I mean, stupid crowded. We're talking stuck in foot traffic, walking at a snails pace, bodies crammed up against one another like Times Square kind of crowded. And so there goes this idea of space. It becomes something else, all of the people in the city stuck together, like we always are, competing for space on sidewalks and streets and subway cars.

At one point, I looked out, past the wildflowers to see this Harry Potter billboard: It All Ends 7.15. And I thought how epic that sounded, how apocalyptic, how catastrophic. I can't believe it, said the girl directly behind me, practically breathing down my neck. Harry Potter. It's all over.

And it does feel that way, doesn't it? This world phenomenon coming to some kind of end.

I remember reading the books for the very first time just outside of London, in my little dorm room on the campus of the University of Westminster. My room was roughly the size of the bathroom in my apartment now. My bed and my desk were about one foot apart from one another. And I had my very own miniscule bathroom where the shower head did not have a proper stall, it just poured down over my toilet and sink.

I sat in that room and read the first three books, each in one sitting, cover to cover. I read the fourth book in a tiny sleeping car on a train in Europe. I don't remember where I was going, only that I lay down with my head on my backpack, feet curled up on the seat, and I kept the overhead light on. At the time, I didn't know very many people who had read the books, except for my Dad (who, in a strange role reversal, introduced me to the books) and my friend Lynn. I would still wait for the release of three more books in the series. None of the movies had come out yet.

I remembered this as I walked on the Highline, listening to the girl behind me say that Daniel Radcliffe was too short to date. Her friend argued, But he's Harry Potter!

And I thought about the idea of space and how we occupy it. From a book in my little room or that tiny train car. To a giant billboard in one of the most crowded places in New York City.

In anticipation of the release of The Deathly Hallows Part II, check out some other bloggers talking about Potter this week:


  1. That billboard looks really epic doesn't it!?

    I'm planning to see 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2' at the cinema some time next week and whilst it's sad that this is the end of the series it's not really the end, because I'm planning to buy the deluxe box set with all of the films in it. That way I can watch the films when I like....I'm dreading to find out how much it will cost though...gulp...

    Thanks for the links!

  2. Wow. I've never been a fan of Harry Potter. I haven't read even one book. I've seen a couple 'bits' from movies when they were on TV, but that's about it. You know what? This post actually makes me want to read them. Something about the tiny dorm room and long train trip is very romantic. LOL. I've always loved tiny cosy spaces. Maybe I should find myself one and curl up with Harry. ;o)

  3. I love the way in which you have constructed this post - great writing skill1

  4. I loved the first few books, especially #1. I've read them all though, and seen the movies. I love Rowling's story more than anything--a welfare mom who sketched out the story on napkins while riding on a train. And look at her now.

  5. Wow...I have no scenary like that when I go walking! That billboard is amazing, thanks for sharing!

  6. I love the verbal picture you painted of curling up with the books in your teeny, tiny dorm room overseas, almost like you're in a train compartment headed off to Hogwarts yourself.

    And the posters are a great example of what a good tagline can do in fiction--bring up all those emotions in just a few evocative words.

  7. *sigh* I LOVE this. I love that huge billboard too! You're right, it does sound so ominous! I love it. Can't wait to see the movie, but can wait too, ya know?

  8. I only read the first 2 books. I plan on reading the other HP books.

    What a great idea for a park. Too bad it's crowded.

  9. Hi, Melissa,

    I loved your post. Since I am a native New Yorker I can SO relate to what you posted. I haven't visited the city in the past four years so I guess that train park is really new.

    It's so nice to meet you. Since we are grouped together by our love for HP, I can't wait to get to know you better.


  10. IT ALL ENDS... that really does say it all. I'm not sure I'm ready for the end. I'm sad just thinking about it.

  11. I love that you know where you were when you read the books...It really shows how much of an impact an author can have in a reader's life.