The Day I Met Luna Lovegood
June 21, 2003. On the cusp of turning 12, I had long since realized my Hogwarts letter would not arrive, especially not nearly a year too late. Regardless of this sad fact, I held the new book with glee and anticipation. Having only been introduced to the series two years prior, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the first book that had made me wait for its release.
I was always a scrawny kid, which made me feel a bit like Harry. A bit of a bookworm, like Hermione. Sarcastic but loyal, like Ron. But I didn’t fully connect with any of these characters. Order of the Phoenix was about to change that.
It was a time when my peers mocked me for reading, especially for a series about a boy wizard. I wasn’t “cool,” but I did my own thing. I entered a local contest to win a copy of Order of the Phoenix the day it came out. I just had to write an essay, so simple! Win I did, and they took my picture as I sat proudly with pigtails in my hair and a gap-toothed grin, holding the book with the blueish hues. My “friends” saw the picture in the newspaper and tried to make me feel ashamed for my accomplishment, but I refused.
That June morning after having received my copy, I sat outside a softball game eating a breakfast sandwich and flipping through the pages, hungrier for the story than I was for the greasy sausage-and-egg snack between my fingers. Onlookers were blatantly bewildered at the sight of a young girl not enjoying the summer solstice by partaking in outdoor activities, but instead choosing to read an 870-page book. (It was the Hermione in me, after all.)
Chapter 10, “Luna Lovegood.” With her family only mentioned in passing in Goblet of Fire during the Quidditch World Cup, I knew so little about her until then. How odd, the other characters said about her. How strange. How loony. But I continued to read and thought, how familiar.
Though the bedraggled dirty blonde hair was something I lobbed off as a child, I remembered how it felt to have locks as untamed as myself. I, too, knew how it felt to laugh for too long and with too much gusto, as my peers exchanged awkward glances. I saw myself in how she believed so strongly in ways that others dared not, her conviction with which she did not flutter.
Throughout the book, I continued to scour the pages for her name. How bravely she joined the DA, how fiercely she fought alongside her peers at the Ministry of Magic against Death Eaters, how kindly she spoke with Harry after Sirius died. What I admired most, though, was how unaffected she was by the hateful and rude comments of others. I aspired to be more like her. A wise Ravenclaw, a good friend, a girl who danced to the beat of her own drum.
I finished the book that day, the longest book of the series on the longest day of the year. I revisited it so often, it is still my most (inadvertently) damaged copy from the Harry Potter series. I never imagined my favorite book could give me such a glimpse inside myself.
Years later, Pottermore would sort me into Ravenclaw, and I imagined in a perfect world, I would have conversed with Luna Lovegood in the common room over all of the things we believed in together that others couldn’t quite understand. In this world, though, I can do that all my own. And I still have those books to thank for introducing such magic into my life. Even if that magic is as simple as finding out who you really are, and who you want to be.
I think we all should want to be a little more like Luna. To be so unafraid to be yourself, at any age and in any world, is admirable. After all, there’s nothing wrong with being a little Loony.