I've been illish the last few days, thus the break in quote blogs. Don't worry, I love them as much as you do and will return to them shortly.
Today, however, I write about something that is on my mind. I'm going on vacation tomorrow. I am going to one of the few places in the United States that could conjure this much excitement, this much longing, this much...magic!
Tonight I will pack my toothbrush and hair tonic and hopefully everything else I need to live away from home for a few days. Diapers, inhalers, non-fragranced everything for one kid, plant-free products for another, socks, allergy free chocolate, and other essentials. The most irritating thing on that list is socks. Tomorrow we'll get to the airport, shoot me with more sedatives than a horse gets when a new king comes to the throne, and settle in for a short flight to Orlando. Get bags, drive to hotel, check in, try not to think of invisible bugs on hotel pillow, maybe sleep.
And then...oh, what delight and rapture will be mine!
I will go to Hogwarts.
I know, I know. Some of you don't get it. Keep reading.
Let's do an exercise together. Think of your favorite book. Got it?
Think of all the things you love about that book. The words that are used, the places that are described, the people that pepper the pages. I'm sure you must have thought about falling into a book at some point in your life, yes? Can you imagine how amazing it would be?!
Sewing lace with the Bennet sisters, hearing Aslan's voice, watching Benedick woo his lady, seeing the majesty of Rivendell, chatting at the pub with Bridget Jones...my list goes on and on!
Perhaps (gasp!) you don't like Harry Potter. I'll only accept this if you haven't read the books. If you haven't yet read them, please don't yell at me until you have read the books. If you just don't like them, I think that your imagination is suspect and we probably won't be really good friends in the future. But just go back to your own favorite book, and you can understand where I'm coming from, right?
All fiction readers share in common the desire to learn about someone or something else. We want it for different reasons. Sometimes, we want to escape to a different place. Sometimes we want to live through the achievements of others. Still again, we want to experience the world in a way that makes us feel alive. Non-fiction works tell us of the world we live in, how to understand it, what can be proved, what has come before. Fiction works tell us of the world inside us, how to understand it, and what can yet occur. They are both essential to the forming of a good mind. I appreciate, love, and read both.
But reading of the world within and without and beyond...it makes life, many days, quite more liveable. I escape gladly to the familiar whine of Mrs. Bennet's voice, and I am quite sure I know how Lembas bread tastes. I'm always wanted, sometimes needed, and never turned away in these places. I know them, they know me, and we have quite the bond.
You can imagine my thrill then, upon hearing that one of my favorite hiding places, Hogwarts, was going to be a physical reality. I've followed each news update, looked at the sketches, seen pictures of the building progress, thought of my own fabulous ideas, and now, am ready to visit. I can't believe that the time is upon us!
I know, I know, I KNOW!
Hogwarts is a castle from a book. Yes, it is! No, it isn't!
I cannot explain it if you don't already understand. I'm not sure how to say that I love certain 'mythical' places as well as or better than I do the physical places in which I find myself. I cannot explain that my throat has been parched these many years for the taste of Butterbeer or that I long to smell the earthy dampness of the Herbology greenhouse.
It many ways, it is the same visiting Cinderella's castle. I've never particularly cared for Cinderella, and I was still quite excited to see her stunning digs. (Post-stepmother, of course.) Why? What is it about these kinds of places that make the heart quicken and wonder bubble forth, unseen for many days or even years?
Fantasy, myth, magic. Some say that all I'm describing is a fairy tale. A fun way to spend an afternoon, no less and certainly no more.
G.K. Chesterton, however, got it ever so right:
The things I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are the things called fairy tales. They seem to me to be the entirely reasonable things. They are not the fantasies: compared with them other things are fantastic...Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not the earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges earth; so for me at least it was not earth that criticised elfland, but elfland that criticised the earth.
Read his amazing work, Ethics in Elfland, and hear it from his genius. But the things that we KNOW, the law of gravity and photosynthesis, the color of the sun and electricity, aren't any more fantastical than alohamora and a minotaur. We've grown used to the things that surround us. Fairyland reminds us that all things are indeed fantastic. By showing us that the river runs with wine, fairy tales and myth remind us that, already, it flows with water!
Chesterton says that fairy tales "remind us that we have forgotten." Can we fly? Can we fight the evil one and win? YES! We think we can't, because our noses are stuck in books of facts. Fairy, like faith, cannot and will not be proven. We love it, we read it, we breathe it, because it resonates with our sleeping souls. Wake up, and hear the song!
I cannot wax eloquent, therefore I am just waxing.
I'm so excited, I can hardly even begin to say. You might not understand, or you might be full of jealousy that you aren't going with. If the former, go read a book until you get it. If the latter, email me your home address and I'll send you mail from Hogsmeade.
For now, I must shop and pack.
Allergy-free chocolate cannot be bought in the land of dreams.