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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Harry Potter and me

I was a newlywed in 2000 when I discovered Harry Potter. At
first, I wasn't interested, because I didn't know what it was
about. The stacks of books at Border's had weird covers that
appeared to be in shades of brown. Nothing grabbed my attention.

"You should read it," my husband said. "You are more child than
adult."

I playfully punched Greg's arm as we laughed and walked away.
One day I found Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the tiny
large print section that was, oddly, part of the reference book
area. I had only been reading large print for a short while. I
experienced less eye strain and pain with these books, but there
was hardly any available besides dictionaries and cross-word
puzzles. The cover still looked brown. The book jacket, now that
I was finally reading it, sounded promising.

"Are you 12?," Greg asked, when I placed the book on the
check-out table.

Later, I opened the book and read, "Chapter one: The Boy Who
lived." My life would never be the same. The MAGIC sparkled
through my brain, a world of bright colors, creativity and
beloved characters. Poor eyes be damned! I read The Chamber of
Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire in
regular print.
When I called Greg a muggle, he had to be sure I wasn't making
fun of him. He read the books in five days.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fie was the last book I read with
my eyes. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was the last movie
I would ever see.

"Is it worth all the fuss?," Mom asked when I got back from the
movie.

"Read," I commanded.

She did. Another heart was brought over to the Harry side.

The Sorcerer's Stone was the first book I read in braille. It was
like going through a port key to return home after a long
absence. I read the next three books in braille and waited with
the rest of the world for book five.

Mom went to the Harry Potter parade in Hudson, Ohio when The
order of the Phoenix was released. She was on the local news,
dressed like Professor McGonagall. Dad was a muggle. He wasn't
on the news.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released from National
Braille Press at midnight the same day the print book came out.
Joseph and I went to the Hudson celebration with my parents. I
was Hermione, complete with a SPEW badge. Joseph, who was four,
sat on my lap as Dad pushed the wheelchair. He was adorable in a
hand-sewn wizard costume, black hat and round glasses. He tossed
about a Golden Snitch while his bright blue eyes too it all in.
He won a best costume award.

I read The Deathly Hallows on a Braille Note Apex and The Cursed
Child and Fantastic beats on my Braille Sense U2. The electronic
braille felt crisp, as my fingers soaked up the words. We tried
to go to Hudson again but couldn't get near the city. Last year I
attended the first Kent potterFest in downtown Kent, Ohio. They
expected about 3,000 people, but around 30,000 showed up. The
streets were packed, and the energy of thousands of people
celebrating what they love flowed through everyone.

I'll be at the next Kent PotterFest on July 29, 2017. You'll know
me as the middle aged woman in a blue plaid wheelchair, who
communicates using tactile sign language. I'll be wearing a jean
jacket with seven Harry Potter patches on it. Even if it's 90
degrees, I'm wearing that jacket.

my technology has limitations. I can't access the quiz sites that
tell you what house you are in. I don't need to. Like James
Potter and all the Weasley kids, I knew I was Gryffindor before
the sorting hat touched my head. I've lived a harsh life darkened
by disabilities, abuse and death. I've stood in front of a court
judge to plead for custody of my little boy. The judge was no
Umbridge. Maybe he could see the Dark Mark over Greg's head. Or
maybe he sensed my heart brimming with the spell of motherhood,
because I was victorious. Like Harry, I bravely faced my nemesis
and triumphed.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by depression. There are Dementors
lurking in the shadows. You have to have courage to hobble in my
shoes. But I always stumble into someone: Harry Hermione and Ron
or Percy, Annabeth and Grover or Carter and Sadie or Meg, Miranda
and Makenzie. A friend, the silver glow of their Patronus pushes
away gloom and fills my life with light.

Angie C. Orlando
June 2017

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