i. remind yourself of every time he kissed you
when you were too sad for it. think of how
you tried to explain the hollowness you could hear
inside of your limbs but he just asked if that meant
no more sex. remind yourself of every time you
went dark for no reason but he still couldn’t tell
you were suffering. remind yourself of the times you
swallowed down your darkness just because you didn’t
want to bother him.
ii. write your name out with his last name attached. realize
you would have given up who you are for him. realize it
takes you away from yourself. realize your initials don’t
look right anymore. realize that in the end, you kept who you are.
realize you didn’t give him everything. you don’t have
to start over from nothing. write out your relationship
in red pen. circle the problems. highlight them. write
bad poetry and call your blog something dramatic and enigmatic
like “red blood, black ink,” maybe you’ll find out that what you
have to say people want to read maybe you’ll find better support
for your art than he ever gave maybe you’ll find that
creation makes you happy in some small way. write him
out of your veins.
iii. cry, drink whiskey, cry, eat ice cream. i know your insides
feel ugly, but trust me, dress nicely. wear thigh highs out to get
coffee, wink at truck drivers, get nasty. paint your lips red.
wear your hair out of your face. feel beautiful for
four minutes. at the five minute mark, you can go back home
and lay down until your heart stops hurting. don’t cry, you’ve got
on good makeup. drink milk, your liver is going to thank you.
call your mom. go shopping. pick out a whole new wardrobe
he’s never seen. get something in every colour. i recommend
marshall’s, they have lacy bras for like a dollar. buy eight. drink
vodka. go out and party. show off your g-string. feel
iv. keep your eyes closed when you are trying to sleep. do not reach for him. get a dog or a cat or a lizard if you can’t be alone. find out that animals love with less conditions and more honesty.
count stars. count cars. count raindrops. replay bioshock, go out
and buy it if you don’t have it. replay portal, it’s phenomenal and
you know it. replay the things you said and realize you
really aren’t the one to blame for all of this. replay his last
good voicemail and then erase it. take a deep breath and select every text. delete all of them. do not read them first, you will
feel each word like knives. if you do make the mistake
of reliving what he said, try reading it aloud in a mocking
tone. i find childish mimicry is often quite soothing. when
he posts things on facebook, close your eyes, close the tab,
close the laptop. go for a walk even though it’s too cold. maybe
get a second cat. there’s always room for a second cat.
v. whenever you are sad, wash your hands. my mother says
being clean is the most powerful pick-me-up in the whole
universe. go shower until your fingertips wrinkle up.
get new sheets with a higher thread count than you really need. renovate your apartment, it will make you feel like your insides are shifting around too. renovate you. cut off your hair, dye it, get a tattoo, pierce your ears or septum or where the sun don’t shine. go punk rock for however long you want to be punk rock, realize you’re not quite confrontational enough for a mosh pit but you like their music, go indie, go k-pop, go crazy. why the fuck not. whenever you are sad, find ten new songs. whenever you are sad, text a friend and ask how they’re doing.
whenever you see a couple in public, do
not think of him. think of mopping. wash your insides. be clean,
but totally have sex in a public restroom. whenever you are sad,
paint your nails and then take a shower. watch the colour flake
off, sigh, repaint them. change your outfit. whenever you are
sad, call your mother or your sister or someone else you love.
if you have no one, call my mother, she’s super nice but she’ll
totally make you clean the house until you feel better although to
be honest, it will actually make you feel better.
vi. breathe. breathe. breathe. you’ll get there eventually.
Harry disappears from the wizarding world for a little while after the fall of Voldemort and only like Ron Hermione and Ginny know where he’s gone
but he’s traveling. he considered backpacking Europe, but then he realized he’d had enough of camping for at least twenty years, so he teaches himself to drive and pulls enough strings to get himself an American drivers’ license and and then he’s off on a roadtrip in a beat-up car that’s still fast as anything. he doesn’t use magic if he can help it because it feels tainted, feels like it belongs to the war, feels like it marks him out again as someone with power and responsibility and the weight of a world on his shoulders. and for now he wants to find out what it is not to be a world-saving wizard, but just to be Harry.
and he meets a lot of strangers (he figures it’s safe enough picking up hitchhikers when they’re more than likely muggles and he’s got his wand if anything bad happens) and he learns what it’s like to be just another face, another car on the road and he learns all sorts of stuff on the radio, tries every genre out there. and it’s nice to listen to stuff that isn’t specifically designed to remind him of the wizarding world, but he finds so much of it surprisingly relatable and sometimes he just breaks down sobbing at the wheel and has to pull over.
and one of the hitchhikers he picks up is a veteran, and Harry doesn’t tell him much but he does say that he’s been a soldier, too, and it’s hard adjusting to a life that you never thought would exist because things were so hard that you could not imagine yourself after. hard to think about settling down and marrying the girl you thought you’d die loving. hard to think that not everyone around you is an enemy. were you a prisoner of war? the veteran asks. or undercover? both, says Harry. and lost, not knowing whether I was on the run or on a mission that was taking a year. I got back alive in the end but something—something’s definitely dead, you know?
how old are you, says the veteran. I’m eighteen, says Harry. the veteran raises his eyebrows. but they both know that some armies, some wars, don’t care about your age.
I think the dead thing is me, Harry says one day, when he’s going seventy in a fifty-five mile zone and the sun is setting in their eyes. when I killed the enemy, I killed myself.
and the veteran looks at him for a very long moment and Harry slows down and looks back at him and at last the man says, no. no, you lived. and you’re going to keep living, son, and one day you’ll be ready to marry that girl, if you love her, and now that you’ve got out of the war, it’s time to get the war out of you.
(they almost have a wreck when Harry pulls over to the side of the road, gets out, sits in the grass and laughs through his tears. flowers start to spring up around him and he feels the magic in his core, but this time it’s peaceful and pure and fun. unspoiled. and he knows it won’t always feel this way but for now things are leaking out of him, joyful things, because he is the boy who lived again, the boy who lived after the war.)
that feeling when you told someone about a book or a movie or an artist or a show and they tried to keep putting it off and putting it off and when they finally indulge in it they fucking love it and you’re like
The basic plot, which cannot be ignored even in the films, is that Harry, Hermione and Ron give up everything for their political struggle. They drop out of high school, they go illegal, defy the government, belong to an underground organization [The Order of the Phoenix], operate out of safe houses and forests and even raid offices of the government and banking offices. This is all done in principled opposition to the Dark Wizard Voldemort and a corrupt bureaucratized government that has been heavily infiltrated with his evil minions. This is revolutionary activity. But the movie version does not present it as such or emphasize these radical aspects of the plot, thereby entirely missing the dramatic sweep and action present in the first half of the last novel.
The novels recognize the importance of alternative media for political struggle. The mainstream press [The Daily Prophet] is shown as unreliable and unprincipled, eventually deteriorating into a fear-mongering propaganda machine for the Voldemort-controlled bureaucracy. For a while the alternative but above ground media [The Quibbler] publishes the real news, but it ceases to print after the daughter of the publisher is kidnapped. In the book, friends of Harry [Lee Jordan, with Fred and George Weasley as frequent guests] start broadcasting the real news from an underground radio station, encrypted with a password. This radio station becomes a critical link for the resistance, which is scattered and weak. Although we are treated to some radio broadcast updates in the movie, they are delivered by a disembodied and professional sounding voice, not our friends the Weasleys. This undermines the important message - a guiding principle behind the media coop - that in a serious situation it becomes necessary to produce your own media and not to rely on ‘professionals’.
The novel makes it clear that in this phase of the struggle the characters romantic lives take a backseat to their political activity, as Harry breaks up with the love of his life [Ginny Weasley] so as to avoid making her a target for Voldemort’s forces, who are known to use torture and kidnapping as tactics. The ‘love triangle’ that becomes the focus of the movie isn’t even really present in the books. In the books, the relationship between Harry and Hermione is totally platonic - Ron is shown as jealous, but the feeling is entirely without foundation. In the book Harry says to Ron: “I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It’s always been like that. I thought you knew” (pg 378, DH US Hardback). This conveys that men and women can be close comrades and friends without being involved romantically. But in the film, Harry and Hermione are shown dancing romantically, and Harry’s line to Ron about his brotherly feeling towards Hermione does not even make it into the film. This completely undermines the important message that jealousy is counter-productive and has toxic effects, which is an important feminist message for young people.
1. Spit it into her voicemail, a little slurred and sounding like the shot whiskey you downed for courage. Feel as ashamed as you do walking into work in last night’s clothes. Wake up cringing for days, waiting for her to mention it.
2. Sigh it into her mouth, wedged in between teeth and tongues. Don’t even let your lips move when you say it, ever so lightly, into the air. Maybe it was just an exhalation of ecstasy.
3. Buy her flowers. Buy her chocolate. Buy her a teddy bear, because that’s what every romantic comedy has taught you. Take her out to a nice restaurant where neither of you feel comfortable and spend the whole night clearing your throat and tugging at your tie. Feel like your actions are more suited to a proposal than the simple confession of something you’ve always known.
4. Whisper it into her hair in the middle of the night, after you’ve counted the space between her breaths and are certain she’s asleep. Shut your eyes quickly when she shifts toward you in askance. Maybe you were just sleep whispering.
5. Blurt it out in the middle of an impromptu dance party in the kitchen, as clumsy as your two left feet. When time seems to freeze, hastily tack on “in that shirt” or “when you make your award-winning meatballs” or, if you are feeling particularly brave, “when we do this.” Resume dancing and pretend you don’t feel her eyes on you the rest of the night.
6. Write her a letter in which the amount of circumnavigating and angst could rival Mr. Darcy’s. Debate where to leave it all day – on her pillow? In her coat pocket? Throw it away in frustration, conveniently leaving it face up in the trashcan, her name scrawled on the front in your sloppy handwriting. Let her wonder if you meant it.
7. Wait until something terrible has happened and you can’t not tell her anymore. Wait until she almost gets hit by a car crossing Wabash against the light and after you are done cursing at the shit-for-brains cab drivers in this city, realize you are actually just terrified of living without her. Tell her with your hands shaking.
8. Say it deliberately, your tongue a springboard for every syllable. Over coffee, brushing your teeth side-by-side, as you turn off the light to go to sleep – it doesn’t matter where. Do not adorn it with extra words like “I think” or “I might.” Do not sigh heavily as if admitting it were a burden instead of the most joyous thing you’ve ever done. Look her in the eyes and pray, heart thumping wildly, that she will turn to you and say, “I love you too.”