The Sorting Hat
The twins and I set up Pottermore accounts eons ago but never really explored them beyond the first few screens or so. We hadn’t even gotten to Diagon Alley. So Sunday afternoon, we sat down together and went through the various screens, calling out our progress to one another. We collected items, we got our money out of Gringotts, we purchased a wand at Ollivanders, and finally stepped up to the Sorting Hat.
I answered the questions, being completely honest. I like black more than white. I like dusk over dawn. I like dark, twisty things. As I submitted the last question it sorted me…
I cannot explain how I felt seeing that green snake on the screen. I know it’s just a game, but it literally felt as if someone had just sent me an email telling me that I’m a horrible person. Because isn’t that our knee-jerk reaction to the word Slytherin, even knowing that there have been very good wizards in Slytherin? That cleverness is used for good just as often as it’s used for bad in the book? Some of my favourite characters were in Slytherin.
But it wasn’t where I thought I would end up. Despite choosing the darker answers over the lighter, happier ones.
Anyway, the sorting on Pottermore is permanent. Your only choice is to delete your account or keep where you’re sorted. So I deleted my account.
I set up a new account — one that coincidentally offered me a better log-in name as well — and started from scratch. I got the same pet but a different wand, and finally returned to Hogwarts to be sorted again. By this time, the twins were happily in their houses — houses that fit them perfectly — and all I wanted was to have the way I see myself confirmed by a computer algorithm. They paused what they were doing to listen to me read the questions aloud and discuss my answers with me.
Most of the time, they agreed that my gut answer was a true answer that they thought described me perfectly. We differed in two places. The first one, I took their advice and put the items in the order they recommended because I didn’t feel strongly one way or another. But the second time, despite their objections, I took the power of invisibility, feeling it was the most honest answer even though the Wolvog warned me that invisibility is used to be tricky. Not the way I would use invisibility which would be protective, in the manner of Frodo Baggins, but regardless, I saw his point.
And then I cringed (how awful is that? To cringe as you are waiting to be judged for giving honest answers?) and waited to be sorted again*, and when the screen went blue, announcing I was sorted into Ravenclaw, I felt like crying.
I was so incredibly happy. I went into the kitchen, my heart feeling light, thinking about how I now needed to redo all of our Hogwarts blankets. Thinking about decorating in our house colours, and how we’ll all be emotionally tied to our respective houses for the rest of our lives. We’ll feel a kinship with other people that we discover are in our houses. And we’ll pay special attention when characters from our houses are mentioned in the books.
Because we’re all sorts of way-too-invested-in-books like that.
Though a tiny part of me felt as if my Ravenclaw membership wasn’t true; that the first sorting was the real one (by whose rules though?). At Hogwarts itself, there are no re-dos, even if you’re having a terrible moment at the time of your sorting and the hat listens to those thoughts and places you in the wrong house. And then I thought, what the fuck does a hat (or for that matter, a computer algorithm) know about me? I mean, seriously.
But then a quiet voice asked, what does anyone know about me? I mean, why dismiss a computer algorithm and not dismiss the way friends I’ve met online or friends I’ve met in the face-to-face world or even close loved ones see me? Why do I accept it when they describe me with kind words, and for that matter, why do I take so deeply to heart when I’m described by others with unkind words? Do any of the words matter and are they even real if they’ve come from outside my own heart — the positive words or the negative words? “What do they know?” is often used to dismiss another person’s negative thoughts about us (though, conversely, we usually don’t try to reason away positive words).
Do any of us really know another person? I mean, yes, I think I do, hence why I was able to say that the twins’ were sorted into houses that fit their personalities perfectly. But at the same time… no. So yes and no. But perhaps if I took that thought a step further, I’d ask if I really even know everything about myself and therefore, why should I listen to my own description of myself?
Heady stuff considering it’s POTTERMORE.
As in a game.
Except that I spent the rest of the night thinking about my house, and how much more I suddenly love the colour blue.
For the record, Josh was napping at the time and therefore didn’t weigh in when I asked the twins for counsel about what I should do when sorted into Slytherin. (One of the kids, who shall not be named, was weeping for me, absolutely sick with the idea that their mother would be in that house.) When he woke up and we told him, he didn’t say anything. But at bedtime, when the Wolvog asked him what he’d do if he were sorted into Slytherin, he said he would keep the house. That one of the bravest wizards in the world belonged to that house, and if that was where he was placed, so be it.
Josh is obviously a more emotionally-secure person than I am.
Creme de la Creme list will be posted tomorrow morning. Goodbye 2012. An early welcome to 2013.
* I received completely different questions the second time around, none of which asked me to choose between dark and light options. So some of it is also the questions you receive.