There have been quite few moments in my life where I've looked around me and declared that this, this moment in time, signals the end of my childhood. The day I left high school (which I also rather dramatically declared to be The End of an Era), the day I left uni, the day I qualified as a teacher, that time I saw a teenager having an enormous argument with her mum in Sainsbury's and found myself sympathising with the mum. Each of these times edged me closer to adulthood, but none of them really were the end of my childhood. (Incidentally, I did not feel like an adult at all when I became a mum, if you thought that was where this post was heading - if anything it reminded me that I'm still a baby myself and should definitely not be responsible for anyone else.)
No, the end of my childhood came last Sunday morning. I was walking down Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow with Papa Bear after our first night away from LB and we passed a Waterstones. In the window was a huge display advertising the midnight opening for the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the night before.
I had forgotten it was being released.
It wasn't on my radar at all. I hadn't gone to the midnight opening; I hadn't even preordered the book. I hadn't read any of the spoilers from the play online, or trawled reddit for fan theories. I hadn't spent hours discussing it with my friends before the release; I didn't even realise that J.K. Rowling didn't write the script herself. God, I don't even remember my password for Pottermore (because it's shit. #justsayin').
I was 12 when I read the first Harry Potter book and I have avidly followed his adventures ever since. I went to the midnight release of every book from Order of the Phoenix onwards and stood in huge queues, eagerly discussing princes and prophecies, hippogriffs and horcruxes with other fans. Then I would walk home with my best friend (and my dad the first 2 times because we weren't old enough to go into town at midnight on our own), and the two of us would snuggle into the same bed with loads of snacks and read all night until we thought our eyes would pop out. We would stay there throughout the next day, avoiding going outside in case someone told us who died or who the prince was or how it all ended, and at various points we would put the books down and squeal at each other before burying ourselves in magic again. It sounds silly, but those nights have been some of the best of my life. Swathed in friendship, excitement and the sheer joy of reading, what could be better?
But this time, there was none of that. Said friend and I don't live in the same town as each other any more and we hadn't discussed the release at all beforehand. She is currently working away from home, researching her PhD and I have a little girl to put to bed at night and then get up with all night so we wouldn't have gone out at silly o clock to stand around in the rain talking about quidditch anyway. Times have changed.
We're grown ups now.
But obviously, we haven't stopped texting each other since we read the book (seriously, someone needs to explain the finer details of Fidelius charms because there are far too many problems with it and it's super annoying) . Now we just have to read at nap time and in between presenting papers at fancy conferences in Paris. Coz we're grown-ups.