Growing up, I didn't want to be a doctor or a teacher. There was a short stretch where I wanted to be a veterinarian, but that ended the second I discovered euthanization. No, I was determined to attend Hogwarts and become a wizard.
Thanks to my dad's obsession with the series, I grew up reading and watching Harry Potter. I still remember my dad handing me my first copy of The Sorcerer's Stone and giving me this entire magical world in which to explore. I spent the majority of my childhood reading and rereading the books, playing pretend with the wizard wands I forced my parents to buy me, and let's not forget the time I dressed up in full Harry Potter glory to watch the final movie.
Harry Potter was an intrinsic part of my childhood. I cannot imagine growing up without it. I fell in love with reading and with fantasy at such a young age in part because of this whimsical, beloved series. I never got the chance to fly a broomstick, battle Voldemort, or compete in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, but nevertheless, my life did feel more magical just by vicariously experiencing these things through the eyes of everyone's favorite chosen one.
I still remember attempting to shove my copies of the books into my elementary school desk, which was a hopeless endeavor since those things happen to be the size of a brick. My paperback of The Order of the Phoenix had to be taped at the spine because it just couldn't handle the weight of all those pages.
Harry Potter will always remain frozen in nostalgic memory in my mind, because it was so much more than just a story to me. It gave me a way to connect with others, a belief in heroes (especially of the magical variety), and endless hours of pure joy. It remains my biggest disappointment until this day that I never received my Hogwarts acceptance letter.