I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The script of a play based on a new short story by JK Rowling.
Set 19 years after the HP series ended,
its basically a story of children and grandchildren
(but primarily sons and grandsons)
struggling to live with the myth and realities of who their parents are
(but primarily their fathers.)
I'm at a disadvantage here since I'm neither a son nor a father.
I am, however, someone who has watched sons struggle
with being the sons of a dead father
while becoming men themselves.
(I can also tell you that daughters have similar issues - but that's baggage to unpack on a different day. )
I'm here to tell you
the struggle is real.
I know its a universal theme,
a normal part of coming to adulthood,
that we reconcile our childish imaginings of who our parents are
with the flawed, complicated and often contradictory realities
they actually are.
Going through the process,
which no one else can do for you
Watching your children go through it,
at any one or all stages of their lives,
without being able to protect them
from the hurt and confusion
is painful too.
That's why the book saddened me
and left me wishing I hadn't read it.
Couldn't we have just used our own imaginations
and fantasized a lovelier world for Harry Potter and his friends to inhabit?
Why have in writing
that despite all their access to magic and spells
HP&Co became adults with jobs in a huge state bureaucracy and
had surly children who grew up feeling just as unloved and unknown
as Harry did living under a staircase?
Did we really need a reminder of the inevitability
that all variations of life contains pain, loss and sadness
interspersed with fleeting moments of love?
And when Harry says to his son: "But the thing that scares me most, Albus Severus Potter, is being a dad to you. Because I'm operating without wires here. Most people at least have a dad to base themselves on - and either try to be or try not to be. I've got nothing - or very little. So I'm learning, okay? And I'm going to try with everything I've got - to be a good dad for you."
I'm not going to lie, I cried.
those fleeting moments of reciprocated love and connection have to be the magic of all our stories, right? -
or else our stories don't make sense.
GI Joe was right.
HP's story gets darker with each book.
Coming soon -
Harry Potter and the Noxious Nursing Home
with the dementia Dementors -
they'd suck the soul out of you if they could remember why they came into the room!
Maybe I'll get started writing that one!
HP people found here and, yes, I DID order some for Tater
although not as stressful as full moon busy in the ER,
I've been traveling.
I've been exploring another world;
a world filled with spells,
children's magical thinking
and the universal themes of
good vs evil,
life and death
life after death.
As soon as GI Joe and the DIL announced
they were going to be decorating the nursery
in a Harry Potter theme,
I knew I needed to get busy.
Yup, I'm THAT person;
the one who never read any Harry Potter books when they first came out.
So binge reading was definitely called for
and, I'm proud to say,
I rose to the challenge.
I'm all caught up.
I understand the lingo and the references
but more than that,
I understand the appeal.
As I was reading, I found myself regretting
not having read them alongside my son when he was young;
it was a missed opportunity for conversations about what he'd experienced.
A boy whose life was altered by the death of a parent;
one who always felt 'different',
whose gifts and abilities were not fully understood by those around him; (although I refuse to call myself a Muggle!),
a boy who was frequently surrounded by people
fearful of naming the very thing which had 'marked' him forever.
I look at the nursery for Tater
and see not only a fathers love of a good fable
but a fathers back story as well.
The powerful lessons in Harry Potter
*the people you love never leave you * You are not alone * Your 'tribe' and 'home' are waiting to be found * all trauma, especially life altering ones, leave a mark - the pain of which comes and goes and sometimes the pain of it feels like it will kill you * there are 'realities' beyond those we 'know'
and the most important * Love is more powerful than hate and lasts beyond death.
are lessons we all need to be reminded of periodically.
I love that Harry's journey to maturity took him from the typical viewpoint of a child -
of seeing situations and people as being either 'good' or 'bad' -
to a more nuanced recognition
(albeit more confusing)
of the complexity of the human condition
and acceptance of the duality that people can be both/and
at the same time.
Should Tater ever need a quick get away,
his broom will be right by the window!
There's magic going on in this room -
Just a few more weeks.
He'll be here before you know it!
ps #1- yes, my DIL is very loving and accommodating
to give GI Joe free reign in decorating the nursery.
I suspect she's just biding her time,
waiting for the day when a Disney princess theme will prevail!
ps#2 - yes, I did mention that I'm in the camp of readers outliers
who believe Harry Potter dies at the end of the series.
I believe both Harry and He Who Must Not Be Named both die.
I think in the chapter of Kings Cross -
where Harry is 'born again',
naked, with his 'vision' restored and his scar gone -
he's in a new reality beyond the life he knew.
I think it's perfectly fitting with the Christian understanding
that life is changed not ended.
I think the epilogue is Harry's 'heaven' -
(having a loving partner and family, raising children and being the father he never had).
I also understand those readers who believe he dies but chooses to return to the life he had,
knowing more loss and pain awaited him.
All valid viewpoints;
all choices revealing more about ourselves than about Harry or JK Rowlings;
all revealing our own backstories.
My favorite line of the whole series? "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"
The day could have gone either way.
Thunderstorms and rain overnight led to a day
with heavy cloud cover and no sun in the morning
but cooler temperatures.
I decided to take a chance and go ahead with my date.
Don't get too excited,
it was with myself;
doing things I love
without having to explain or justify what I like to do with anyone else!
(Now that I think of it, that mindset could explain alot about why I'm still a singleton!)
I first headed down to the Flood Walls
to see what this years crop of #Paint St Louis artists had created.
For those that don't know,
St Louis is built on the Mississippi River
and, as with every river,
it can flood.
Part of the protection system in place are huge concrete 'walls' that hold back the waters;
located in the 'industrial area of town, near the tracks and roadway material storage sites.
Not particularly attractive.
An isolated area just ripe for 'taggers' with spray paint.
Rather than fight the inevitable,
city officials embraced it and
for the past several years
have sanctioned teams of artists to create what they like.