Saturday, I looked under sofa cushions, under the bed, in dresser drawers, did the inside out jean pocket trick, and finally went to my last resort for hidden cash in the tradition of all dwellers from New Orleans, checked my freezer.
I found enough pennies, nickels, dimes and bills to purchase the last of the Harry Potter books.
Harry Potter has been a tradition in my home since the first book came out ten years ago. A friend and her children were visiting from the U of K, and she brought over this first in a planned series of books, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
It was a lovely gift for my then ten year old HRH. It wasn't a first edition, or I'd not be living in a sub-let, but, I digress.
Before then, she wasn't much of a reader, HRH wasn't. They left, I picked up the book, read it in a night, and told her, "You might like this."
She grumbled a bit, groaned, and finally picked it up. She's never looked back.
We would go through the ritual of gathering up pennies and nickels and dimes... going to the bookstore and standing in line until the magic hour when they would let us inside, snagging a chair, settling in for the midnight hour.
I'd chat with other parents, she would talk to the Potter fans, her friend S with her as they wandered about, touching books, discussing Phillip Pullman's writing vs Rowling. With her loyalty to Harry, The Golden Compass remains her favourite book of all time, after Hamlet.
My child has eclectic taste.
Eventually, she would curl up in my lap on those release dates...when she was 12, 14... that long wait we had until the 6th book... she was in Colorado, and called me when I stood in line alone. She waited with me on the phone, and I bought our book. As always, she read it first.... devouring the words, handing it over to me, and dancing in excitement as I read at breakneck speed to catch up, so we could discuss what had happened.
She would walk in, find me crying... "Oh!", she would say, "Sirus, eh?" and we'd cuddle, mourning.
This year, I rang her back in the Land of Utes. No, she wasn't going to bother getting in line. After all, the book was over at WalMart, she'd get it the next day. "We've got company, Mom. I'll talk to you later." and the line went dead.
I took the train down to 86th and Lex, to the nearest bookstore, sharing it with the Yankees fans who were leaving the game early... I like the early leaving fans, they are only semi drunk, and are far nicer than the later fans, and tons better than the last fans from a losing game. That I had to go to 86th and Lex to find a bookstore is a sad statement in and of itself, but, once there, it was a simple thing to walk in, and buy myself some Harry Potter.
Normally, I'd have hopped back on the train, schlepped up the stairs, changed into my well worn grey tshirt that comforts me, and read, even in the trapped hellhole of heat that is my flat.
Instead, I had the terrier's poor butchered coat shaved, I meandered down and looked at real dresses I couldn't afford, I bought bagels... I did everything I could to avoid Harry.
Eventually, I had no choice... we were homeward bound.
Once there, I did my usual OCD routine... keys hung up, dog released from the leash, shoes off and put just there, food in 'fridge, back to my room... it's a routine, I don't vary.
The book was placed on the coffee table, where I eyed it as I sat down and did...nothing. Talked to friends, set up my air travel, wrote, muttered about shit to the air, pushed the book around, did the text thing, and... studiously avoided Harry.
I told the WeatherGuy I was going to bed to read it, and I lied. I read two chapters... and put it down.
It sat in the same spot all day yesterday, while I made excuses... I accepted an invitation to go see K, and help her out with her flat. Now, granted, helping K out helps me out. She can look for a flat where she wants to move, which opens up her flat near that same bookstore, for me to move into.
I'm not stupid.... plus, she's a hoot. Plus, it kept me away from Harry.
Harry still sits on my table, I am still in meh clothes, having down nowt today. I am leery of opening the book, of moving on... I'm told there is a major "EEK!!" on a page I'm coming up on soon... that's not what is stopping me.
It's not the end of the series that's stopping me, although, I'll miss Harry.
It's the realisation my time with HRH is over. The last of our rituals. They've been disappearing slowly over the last year or so, the little things we've done together over the years. She and TheInvestment and I were a team, and she and I... well, we were the things I never had with my mother.
Every Sunday, we worshiped at the Church of the Cinema 8. We discussed Jimmy Stewart's good looks vs. Henry Fonda. She thought she should marry Jimmy. I quietly told her he was dead... she wasn't disturbed, and turned it to a good point, advising me he'd be very quiet at family gatherings.
We played gin. We read together. The three of us watched zombie films. Orgainise before they rise!
Slowly, her now fiancé became part of the group, and, one day... she went to a film we were going to see with him first.
My little heart cracked.
I know it's time, I know she's a big girl....hell, she's getting married and will be a step mom. I know she's doing what she wants in life, that she's bright and wonderful and all those things.
When Harry ends, it's the last of those old ties we had.
Perhaps, that's why Harry sits, dust jacket in place, on my coffee table. Perhaps, that's why I may not open him for some time.
It's the last of my little HRH here in my heart. He has my big, grown HRH.... but, Harry and I? We have the other one.
And, well, we want to hold on to her... I want to hold on to both of them for a few days longer.