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: