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Happy Birthday, Harry Potter

Harry Potter turns 31 today.  He was luckily born the same year as my brother, which is also a nice round year on the calendar, so it’s easy to keep his age straight (thank you, Ms. Rowling).  Which means that the great battle took place in June of 1997.

I wonder if he had a birthday party that year.  I mean, despite the good that came from that, his world was also shattered with all the loss; with what he witnessed.  I wonder if he felt like digging into some chocolate cake a few weeks after that fight.

Which made me think about where I was on Harry Potter’s birthday back in 1997; what was happening in my life as he was recovering from battling Voldemort.

I was living in Massachusetts, working at a camp where I taught art.  I lived in a co-op for free in exchange for being the handywoman/point person.  My grandfather died, and I was heartbroken.  I stopped weeding our co-op’s garden and the strawberries overtook the plot of land.  I had just completed my translation project for graduate school.  I had a crush on a boy named Pete, but we would have been terrible together, so we didn’t date.  I babysat a lot.  Dave Matthew’s video for “Crash” seemed to always be playing when I turned on MTV.  I ate vegetable sandwiches pretty much for every single meal that summer so I must have also had three on his birthday.

A really ordinary life.  You juxtapose that with the birthday Harry Potter must have been having.  Were people lining up to give him presents, grateful for all that he did for them?  Was Ms. Weasley holding up her hand and saying, “I know it’s your birthday, Harry, but my heart just isn’t capable of whipping up a cake and streamers for you just now.”

What were you doing at the end of July 1997 on Harry Potter’s birthday?


1 Mrs. Gamgee { 07.31.11 at 8:42 am }

I was actually just pondering Harry, and how old he might be today (I couldn’t recall what year he was born). I wonder, would the magical world have created some sort of ‘Harry Potter Day’, as we have with our Muggle world leaders? Would they commemorate his birth, the day he defeated Voldemort, or both?

As for where I was on ‘that’ birthday… I was just freshly graduated from college, sure that my dream job in my chosen field was just around the corner, and extremely smug in my understanding of the world. I was living with my parents for the summer as I was flying to different interviews. I was certain I knew who I was and what I was meant to do/be in this world. Oh to have that certainty again.

2 Christa { 07.31.11 at 8:49 am }

I would have been going into my junior year of high school so at the end of July I would have been in band camp. Bane camp always happened to fall on my birthday. I just celebrated my 30th birthday last week by visiting the Harry Potter theme park. It was GREAT!! I’m hosting a Harry Potter giveaway on my blog, too, if anyone would like to enter

3 HereWeGoAJen { 07.31.11 at 9:10 am }

I’m thinking that is the year we were in Alaska on vacation. I don’t remember exactly when, but I think it was in July. Probably not on the 31st though, I think we went on vacation earlier in the summer than that because school started early in August. I was dating Matt then, and we spent pretty much every day of that summer together, so we were probably at the movies or the mall or something like that.

4 Queenie { 07.31.11 at 10:07 am }

I had just finished a semester abroad in grad school, and spent an amazing summer interning at a job I really liked and living with my boyfriend. . .who is now my husband. I struggled with some things that summer, but other things were really, really amazing, in hindsight. In June, the whole summer lay before me, full of possibilities and fun.

I love that you have made HP real. Can’t wait for Pottermore to officially launch.

5 A.M.S { 07.31.11 at 10:15 am }

I think I was visiting my first niece, who was only a few days old. I would have been 26, working as a nanny for three children, and starting to realize that after having been in school almost non-stop since the age of 4 I was a little burnt out and had absolutely no interest in writing a Master’s thesis (much less picking a topic).

6 Jo { 07.31.11 at 10:21 am }

I am a late-arrival to all things Harry Potter — I think I first started the series about 5 years ago. So I had no idea of just how “old” Harry was! Crazy to think that he’s older than me. I just never pictured him that way.

In July 1997, I was about to enter my senior year of high school. I was 16, had recently gotten my driver’s license, and on top of the world. I was dating a boy that I would break up with in about a month — he was very sweet, which to me at that time was just not what I was looking for. (Ah, youth!).

I was also still desperately wanting to marry young and have a houseful of children. I guess some things never change.

7 Christa { 07.31.11 at 10:31 am }

You’re right, all the HP rides are roller coasters. And aside from the HP section of the theme park, Islands of Adventure doesn’t have much else unless you like Dr Seuss. But if you decide to go then you can still go through the Hogwarts castle without having to ride the Forbidden Journey ride. We actually did that so my mom and grandmother could see everything and it was awesome how they did it! In fact you have the advantage in that you can take your camera and belongings with you instead of having to deposit them in the locker room.

8 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 07.31.11 at 11:20 am }

I had just graduated from college, was working at my first job in a city where I knew no one except people from work and one friend from college (my fiance hadn’t arrived yet), doing the final preparations for my wedding.

If I were Mrs. Weasley I’d still make Harry a cake. No streamers.

9 Kristin { 07.31.11 at 11:48 am }

At the end of July in 1997, I was seriously sleep deprived. My oldest son was 5 months old and was full blown teething. He cut his first tooth just 18 days later…2 days shy of his 6 month birthday. I had a couple of wonderful months (months 3 and 4) of through the night sleep and when the teething hit, sleeping through the night went to hell in a hand basket. I didn’t get him back to a decent sleep schedule until he was past 1 yr old.

10 Jonelle { 07.31.11 at 11:59 am }

I was 20 years old, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life so I enrolled at the local community college taking general ed classes. That summer my good friend Andy (who at one point had a crush on me, but I didn’t like him) got a girlfriend and I learned what it was really like to be ignored. We were massive Star Wars fans (I still am a massive SW fan) and that year George Lucas rereleased Episodes 4-6 in cinemas. Andy was supposed to take me, but he didn’t. Couldn’t find anyone else to take me, so I never got to see them on the big screen. They eventually broke up, and my friendship with him dissolved.
Happy Birthday, Harry!

11 a { 07.31.11 at 12:11 pm }

I was saving to buy my first place, dating an unsuitable guy, living at home with my mom and my dog. Oh, and enjoying my nephew and brand new niece.

12 mijk { 07.31.11 at 12:47 pm }

I was trying to graduate in fall and planning my move from one end of the country to the other end to go live with my boyfriend. Worked out great! Was a weird summer that one though.. I lived in between worlds for a few months (I live in a small country so I just took the train now and again to go back to school…)

13 mrs spock { 07.31.11 at 1:32 pm }

I had finished by freshman year of college and was getting ready to start sophomore year. I was still living at home but hoping to get an apartment with a friend (we didn’t- she just met the man she would end up marrying 7 months before). My youngest sister was in rehab and I would learn in a few months my mom would want me to move out anyway because she couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. I was getting ready to quit my job at a pizza place, start a job going door to door for an environmental organization that only lasted a week (I couldn’t hornswaggle people into giving me money- I’m too nice), and was going to start a 3 year position at the library, which was better pay and a better match for me. My first kiss- at the age of 19- is only a few weeks away, with the actor that played Robin Hood at the Renaissance Festival. I will always henceforward enjoy kissing a man with the taste of ale on his lips.

14 Kristin { 07.31.11 at 1:36 pm }

I was celebrating my 18th birthday, feeling on top of the world from graduating hight school and preparing for my first semester in college. I was also babysitting a lot, listening to Matchbox 20 and Third Eye Blind…prob some Biggie and P. Diddy thrown in for good measure too!

15 Kyria { 07.31.11 at 1:53 pm }

This is a very thought provoking post!!! In 1997, I was struggling with college, work, making new friends, making it all work! I think this was a very crazy time in my life. So many unknowns were out there waiting.

16 Chickenpig { 07.31.11 at 2:06 pm }

I don’t know about 1997, but on July 31 2008 I was giving birth to my daughter 🙂 Well…having her cut out of me if you want to be honest, I wasn’t doing any of the work. In 1997 it would have just been another day in the life. My husband and I had only been married a year. It’s hard to believe 🙂

17 Christa { 07.31.11 at 2:49 pm }

Wait a second. If Harry Potter is 31 this year and the end of the book showed him at the Hogwarts train with his youngest son who’s 11….how does that work out? Especially when the book was written a few years ago? Now I’m confused

18 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.31.11 at 3:07 pm }

A year ago today we were staying at my parents’ house after our first year in Syria, about to head back for the second. I’d been to the dentist but declined having x-rays. Just in case.

I spent years not getting dental x-rays just in case.

So glad, when pondering questions like this, that I keep a journal.

19 Mina { 07.31.11 at 3:56 pm }

I was absolutely sure you’ll post about Harry’s birthday today! I just hoped nothing creative was involved, my brain cannot handle anything creative right now.
In July 1997 I had finished my second year of Uni, had a nerd scholarship (long series of high grades) and most probably I was at home playing canasta. That summer was canasta summer, we were crazy, had tournaments and played for days and nights. My team was winning most of the time. It was only fair since I was single at the time and my partner was cheated on over and over. 🙂

20 Elizabeth { 07.31.11 at 4:14 pm }

I love reading all these little snippets! (Even though some of them make me feel oooooold….)

In July 1997 I was in Bolivia, working as a community development volunteer (think Peace Corps, but with a faith-based organization). I had recently moved to a rural village where I lived in a one-room house for the next two years. I had met my future husband (a fellow volunteer) but we weren’t in love yet, just good friends. What I probably did that day was walk to a couple different farms to visit the women there and talk about our latrine project, eat more food than I wanted to during each visit, entertain some children at my house by making them cookies and letting them color at the table, and end the day reading by candle-light while drinking hot tea (July is mid-winter in Bolivia). Ah, memories.

21 Annie { 07.31.11 at 4:36 pm }

I was living right next to a gorgeous beach in a small town in Hawaii. My goal was to go to the beach every single day. Oh, and also get respectable grades in college. For the last few years I’ve been battling loss and infertility, which is about as much fun as battling Voldemort. But now, with a rainbow baby due just any day, it feels like I’m about to go to a place as beautiful as that beach in Hawaii!

22 Another Dreamer { 07.31.11 at 7:39 pm }

I have no idea what I was doing. I had to be like, 12. I’m not even sure what grade that was. I know my sister came to visit that year with her husband (newlyweds) and her step-son, who was 8 at the time. We went swimming a lot, and I thought the reaction people gave us when they found out he was my nephew were hilarious… the next year my sister was pregnant, and in August of 1998 her daughter was stillborn. Her step-son just had his first child this year, and he named it after his sister. 1997 really feels like a lifetime ago.

23 JustHeather { 07.31.11 at 7:51 pm }

In 1997 I had just turned 21 and moved to a new town with my (now) ex.

24 Meghan { 07.31.11 at 8:22 pm }

I had just turned 20 and was between my sophomore and junior years of college. It was my last summe working at the mall and just having fun. If I remember I put alot of miles on my car driving back and forth to long island to visit my boyfriend, now husband. Who’d a thunk that?

25 Kymberli { 07.31.11 at 8:25 pm }

I was 19. At the end of July 1997, it was just past my first anniversary. We’d spent the first year of our marriage still enduring a semi-long distance relationship. Frank had just re-enlisted in the Army and finally was stationed back at the base at our hometown. In other words, we were just one month into living with each other 24/7. I was finishing up band camp at our high school alma mater, where I was the coach of the dance and flag teams. I was about to start my third year of college. 1997 was a good year.

26 Mali { 07.31.11 at 9:08 pm }

I knew I shouldn’t have read these responses. I feel so old.
I was working – just beginning my second year in what was close to being my dream job but deteriorated. It was the middle of winter. I would have been cold, and being August, I would have been between business trips. In May my husband and I had combined a holiday with a business trip to Washington DC and we visited some of the states nearby. So good memories were still fresh.

27 marilyn { 07.31.11 at 9:09 pm }

what a great visual of you…at a co-op. I love veggie sandwiches. Must have avocado and swiss! yum!! Anyways…I always wanted to be a camp counselor!! …1997..sounds so long ago..but it feels lie just a couple years ago. Wow how time flies..really. like the age from 8 to 17 felt like so long, but from 20 to 33..it flies by. Why is that?!

28 coffeegrljp { 08.01.11 at 12:18 am }

Odds are good I was preparing paychecks. I used to work for a school district in the payroll office. Since 7/31/97 was a Thursday and we printed checks every other Friday….I was likely sitting around drinking my Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Coolatta (I mean it’s *hot* in upstate humid NY at the end of July -gotta keep cool!) and printing checks. Brings back memories!!

29 Missy { 08.01.11 at 2:04 am }

Harry is only a couple of days older than me and I can’t even imagine fighting a battle of that magnitude the summer before senior year. But that was a horrible summer and now dang I wish I could remember the exact date of what I thought would be the worst day of my life. Some douche at my fast food job was in a hurry to get out of work so he mopped the floor BEFORE I took out the french fry grease. He also failed to put up the mop signs so I slipped and fried my face, arms, and eyes with hot grease. I then had to drive myself home because said douche would not drive me to the ER. I wish we would have sued. I was looking pretty tore up as I started senior year, but am happy to report there are no visible scars. Maybe Harry would have preferred my life?

30 md { 08.01.11 at 4:37 am }

so harry is a 1980’s child? how awesome (so am i) :)))

july 1997- the summer before the last year of high school. ah, that was a crazy summer. that was when hk stopped being a british colony, when my spiritual leader came to hk after some 19 years, when i decided where to go for university, and so many other things.

thanks for making me recollect that time. and for letting me know that harry and i share our birth year 🙂

31 Tamara { 08.01.11 at 8:50 am }

I had just gotten my driver’s license a few days earlier so I was being a menace to society in north Jersey.

32 April { 08.01.11 at 11:15 am }

In 1997, I was home from working a a camp counselor and was looking forward to my 20th birthday and going back to college in 2 more weeks.

33 loribeth { 08.01.11 at 11:33 am }

I keep all my datebooks, so I checked that day. Nothing really remarkable happened. It was a Thursday = payday & we were getting ready for the August long weekend. I was 36 & we were still ttc (still in denial about infertility). A year later, I was in the last days of my pregnancy with Katie, pre-stillbirth. 🙁 One of dh’s cousins & one of mine both had daughters on this day, although we didn’t hear about either birth until a few days later. Later that week, we babysat cousin/neighbour’s two daughters, whom we seldom see these days. 🙁 Both of them are now in college.

34 Nancy { 08.01.11 at 2:43 pm }

I was just starting my first medicated IUI which resulted in my now 13 y/o twins who love Harry Potter so much!

35 Keiko { 08.01.11 at 2:46 pm }

I was attending a summer children’s theatre camp, most likely wrapping up production on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I was Mrs. Bucket, Charlie’s mom (I sing the annoying song that everyone fast forwards through in the movie, “Cheer Up, Charlie.”) I was probably on the phone for hours at a time with my new boyfriend, Larry. We had just started dating on July 17.

Amazingly, I’d end up marrying him all these years later.

36 Keiko { 08.01.11 at 2:47 pm }

I forgot to add: I was 15 years old at the time and thinking about my upcoming sophomore year in high school.

37 Sarah Lewis { 08.01.11 at 3:28 pm }

I was 17, it was the summer before I went to college, and I was in my first week of a five-week “work in the woods” session. We were doing hard, physical labor (that week, we piled logging “slash”; other weeks we built trails and fences) and my heart was all aflutter over one of my fellow workers, who ended up being my last semi-serious boyfriend before I met my husband.

I remembered the sketchy details based on the general date, but it was pretty amusing to look it up in my journal. I’d just decided to try non-dominate-hand writing that week, so it was pretty challenging just deciphering what I’d written. 🙂

38 Quiet Dreams { 08.01.11 at 4:29 pm }

This is so great! HP is also the same age as my sister! In July of ’97 I was about a month away from going to Mexico for a year-ish. I was having a summer fling with a very sweet guy, and renting a room in a house with these two sisters who didn’t have very good litter box cleaning habits (for their cats, not themselves). (TMI? Hey, you asked.)

39 Mijke { 08.02.11 at 8:02 am }

At the end of July 1997 I had just graduated High School and was getting ready to fly to Australia as an AFS Exchange Student.

Having lived in Amsterdam all my life, flying to a 16.000 acre cattle farm in rural Australia, 35 miles away from the nearest rural village (population: 200, including cats and dogs) and at least 250 miles from the nearest ‘town’ (which still had a smaller population than the Dutch village I live in, now), to go live with a family I had never even met before was quite the adventure for me. Not as big an adventure as the one Harry Potter had around his 17th Birthday, but still…

40 oliviacw { 08.02.11 at 9:45 am }

I had changed jobs the previous September, and was just feeling really good and settled in to my work. My now-husband and I were talking about getting engaged – little known to me at the time, he had just started planning a really elaborate proposal. I don’t have many specific memories of that summer, but I think it was overall a good year.

41 Mary { 08.02.11 at 10:01 am }

Let’s see…Harry and I are about 8 months apart…so it would have been the summer before I turned 18. I had just decided to drop out of high school and go to community college. I was socially inept, drinking a lot, and about to get myself into a whole lot of trouble. It’s so amazing to think I was that irresponsible. Really calls to mind how they keep talking about the mistakes Dumbledore made when, “He was OUR age!” vs. how responsible Harry, Hermione and Ron are being by trying to save the world. Amazing what people can do when they feel their life has significance and that they can make a difference!

42 Megan { 08.02.11 at 2:42 pm }

I had just finished a second year of AmeriCorps and was living in a summer sublet, a lovely house by a stream. I was probably listening to Sweet Honey in the Rock, and admiring the summer day. It was a summer of feeling very alive and living right on the growing edge of life.

43 Bionic Baby Mama { 08.02.11 at 8:22 pm }

falling in love with my wife.

(while living in her grandparents’ house. with her great-grandmother. it was a crazy time.)

44 Bea { 08.06.11 at 5:42 am }

I was at uni… wait! I was backpacking the UK. The opening of an era. Your life sounds pretty cool back then. Not that it isn’t now… but coops and strawberries and such is pretty cool.

Good to have had those times back then.

I didn’t know HP was 31 though. How do we know this?


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