I arrived at Barnes & Noble at 8pm last Friday and didn’t leave till 2am on Saturday. The previous two nights, I’d slept a grand total of eight hours. But surrounded by Harry Potter look-alikes, I never yawned once.
When HP5 came out, I was an employee at that bookstore and worked one of the many well-fed cash registers. Honestly, it was one of the most magical nights of my life. One boy, around fourteen-years-old, started crying when I slid his copy of the book across the counter. When HP6 came out, I was no longer an employee (I’d started working at the public library), but I ran their trivia contest just so I could be a part of the magic again.
This year, I absolutely could not miss it. Unfortunately, I agreed to help outside of the store, giving people their numbered bracelets and passing out flyers. Unfortunately? Yes. Because this year was absolutely insane. This year, the store filled to capacity at around 11pm and I was asked to close the doors and not let anyone else in. People thought they wouldn’t get a book if they weren’t inside at midnight, which we told them was untrue, but all sorts of excuses were tossed at me. “My five-year-old son is in there. Are you saying you’re going to keep him in there all by himself?” To which I wanted to say, “You left a five-year-old alone in that madhouse, while you came out here to have a cigarette? Stay here while I call Social Services.” Thankfully, I have a blog, so I knew that if I held my sarcasm, I'd be able to get it out of my system in a couple days.
Other than a few brief encounters with Fuggles (a term Ms. Rowling can use if she ever writes Harry Potter 8: The College Years), the night was still full of magic. Including this encounter…
A girl I'd met several months back while speaking to students at my old high school recognized me. Her older brother and I attended school together and, after she saw me speak, she told him what I’d been up to. She also told him about something I'd said in that class. The teacher asked what I would do differently if I could repeat high school. I said that I often regret not participating in sports. Her brother told her that it wasn’t good for me to hold onto that regret. Maybe I never would’ve become an author had things been different for me in high school.
And she approached me on Harry Potter Night just to pass on that nugget of wisdom she learned from her brother.