The Burrow: My Escape

by Vicki Wright

My connection with Harry Potter is one of escape. When I first discovered the boy wizard, I was a sophomore in college. Out of necessity, my boyfriend and I were living in his parents’ basement. He had just quit his job that he absolutely hated rather suddenly and most of the money I made at my part-time job went to school. So we had little choice until he found another job and we were able to save a little bit.

We lived there only six months, but it was the longest six months of my life. His parents, who are now my in-laws, are completely different from my father. They never expressed love, ever. I would come home from work or school and they would not greet me. I would walk right into their living room where they would be watching television and they wouldn’’t even look up from the TV and say a simple “hello”. This was a very hard time for me. Call me spoiled, but I was used to having someone ask how my day went. I didn’’t expect them to tell me they loved me before I left each morning like my father, but a simple “Have a nice day” would have sufficed. It wasn’’t just me. They didn’’t acknowledge their son’s presence either. It was just the way they were. They are that cliché family where the dad works 6 days a week and shows that he loves his family by providing for them. (I have come to understand them better now and have even managed to break down some of their walls, but that is beside the point.)

I had resorted to coming upstairs, from what I began to call my hideout in the basement, to grab something to eat or drink and then quickly run back downstairs. It’s kind of comical now, but it was very disturbing then. My friends at work and school noticed a change in me. I was more irritable and very stressed out. I didn’’t have anywhere to relax. I was hardly home during that time in my life and when I was I just wanted to relax, but I couldn’’t. I felt so uncomfortable. I caught the worst cold I’’ve ever had, which eventually turned into bronchitis, because I was so stressed. I couldn’’t move back in with my father because he had a one bedroom apartment and, believe it or not, no couch. And besides, I didn’’t want to, I loved Brian, my boyfriend, and I felt like I would be leaving him if I left their house. It was a very awkward time in my life. We had lived there almost two months when I had three weeks of winter break looming before me; a time when all I would have would be work. I would have to spend more time at “home” then outside, which obviously was not a very appealing prospect.

During an eight hour shift at work one of my friends continuously sang Harry’s praises for about the fifteenth time. She told me that if I didn’’t want to read the books that I should at least rent the first movie. The second one had recently come out to the theater and she told me that I should see that one too because it was even better than the first one. A few days later I finally made the stop at Blockbuster and picked up the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I briefly hoped that the clerk would think that I had a younger sister at home. Brian was upstairs watching boxing with his father while I watched it. I absolutely loved it, Rupert Grint was hilarious. I was completely caught up in it. It was a fantasy about some 11 year old kids, yet something about it appealed to my 20 year old self. A few weeks later, I talked my sister into going to see the second one with me in the theater. I loved it even more than the first movie. Rupert Grint was even funnier and the whole movie was just better. The ending made me think, but at first I was confused. When Tom Riddle changed the words of his name around to spell out “I am Lord Voldemort,” I was like, WTF?! Also, Aragog was rather disturbing. The whole spider scene made me shiver.

Anyway, the next day at work I bought the first four books. I read them all during my winter break and even stayed up all night to finish the fourth one. I kept telling myself that I could finish it in the morning, but once I got to the third task I knew that I wasn’’t going to wait. They were absolutely fantastic. I could get so completely lost in the books that I was able to forget about the stress with where I lived, about school, and the mean customers at work who completely forget about the meaning of Christmas. In short, I could forget about my life and pretend, even for just a little while, that there were wizards and a game called Quidditch and evil didn’’t always win. It reminded me of what I had believed when I was small, that anything could be accomplished when you put your mind to it. It was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. A few months later, after a few more readings, I finally told Brian that I had had enough and I couldn’’t live in the basement anymore. About a month after that we moved into an apartment. I was kind of upset that I didn’’t think to just talk to him before I let myself get all stressed and upset. I learned a lesson there.

But Harry Potter is still an escape for me. I just graduated from college in June and I’m a new nurse. The sixth book came out right when I was about to take my boards for nursing. I had just started a new job, I was about to get married and I had just moved to a new city. Once again, Harry Potter was just what I needed. For twelve hours on that Saturday, I laughed at Lavender and Ron, cheered at Ginny and Harry, patted myself on the back for Ron and Hermione, cursed my stupidity at Snape and cried for an hour over Dumbledore. For those twelve hours, except for a few breaks, I thought of nothing else. The whole experience was perfect. On a side note, it all worked out, I passed the boards, my wedding was flawless, and my job is better then expected.

It’s funny, whenever we go back to my in-law’s house, I make a point of making a trip into their basement. Now it seems like we never lived there, the only reminder of the time we spent there is the smell. It’s difficult to describe really, kind of moist and earthy, yet clean. That smell brings back the memories of when I first discovered Harry Potter and the story that JK Rowling wove, I love it.