Always

Earlier today, I saw a car with “Always” spelled out on the back window in Harry Potter symbols: the sign of the Deathly Hallows for the A, a magic wand for the l, and so on. It was very cool, and I was tempted to stop and take a picture, but taking pictures of a stranger’s car would have been too creepy.

It did make me think, though, about the way Harry Potter has become such an ingrained part of modern American culture. I get comments from fellow fans every time I go out in my Hogwarts t-shirt. I once made a friend at summer camp exclusively based on our shared love of Harry Potter, and I bonded with countless college classmates over the series, even though by that point the movies had all been made. I’ve even seen people with Harry Potter-themed tattoos.

“What’s your Hogwarts house?” is more than a fun question to think about. For my generation, it’s one of the ways we think about our personalities, just as much as formal personality types like Meyers-Briggs or Five-Factor or Enneagram. It certainly makes for a good way to break the ice and learn more about someone, but I think – certainly this has been the case for me – it’s also a source of self-reflection and a lens through which to understand myself. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

When I was in middle school, Harry Potter was a frequent topic of discussion, one of the few things almost everyone in my class had in common. What do you think will happen in book 7? Is Snape good or evil? Should Hermione end up with Ron or Harry? Do you think Harry will have to die? There are no more endings to be speculated on, but that doesn’t mean that aspect of near-universality has faded, especially with those of us who grew up with the series.

That is proven by just how common things like those “Always” stickers still are. I don’t think “always” is such a popular Harry Potter quote just because of Snape and Lily. I think it’s also a statement of how long we’ll love Harry Potter.

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