Harry Potter Got Me Through Quarantine

Harry Potter Got Me Through Quarantine

Author: Gabrielle Heimerling
June 23, 2020

Harry Potter got me through the first few months of quarantine.

Let me explain.

I am a big reader. I love adding to my “to read” lists and adding completed books to my “read” list. I love to talk about books, read book reviews, get book recommendations, and be in book clubs. I always have a book within reach. The library is my happy place. I can easily zone out for hours reading. I. Love. To. Read.

March 2020 and COVID-19. Government mandated stay-at-home orders. A reader’s dream! But then it wasn’t. During early COVID days my favorite pastime made me feel impatient and angry. The stories were frustrating. The characters were weak and whiny and their problems were trivial. Reading left me dissatisfied, annoyed, and highly distracted. The real world felt destabilized and books could not ground me. Everything was overwhelmingly sad and scary, and my main coping mechanism had failed me. It was a low point.

Enter Harry Potter.

I am a proud Potterhead. My journey into the Wizarding World began 20ish years ago on a recommendation from my best friend and most trusted book recommender. Trust me, she said. They are really good. I was instantly besotted. I would reread the entire series in anticipation of each new release. I never grow tired of reading and rereading and rereading.

I returned to Hogwarts at the end of March. By then I was mentally and physically depleted from learning how to function in the time of COVID where everything felt like loss. Diving back into the Wizarding world firmed my shaky ground. The world was familiar. I knew the stories by heart. Nothing was surprising. I knew how to prepare for the sad times and knew it would eventually end in triumph. I started to relax and breathe. The constant assault of noise from the news and all of the togetherness began quiet. The heaviness of my worry and grief began to lighten. Reading about this fantasy world was reconnecting me to the real one. I started to feel more like myself. I started to simply feel better. And that feeling better began to fill other life spaces. I had been feeling painfully guilty that my quarantine family experience had been severely lacking at least according to Facebook and Instagram. We had not scavenger hunted, gone on long meandering family walks, baked dozens of cookies or planted vegetables. People were finding silver linings everywhere, but I could not muster the energy to look.

Enter Harry Potter.

Dinner discussions now revolved around the book I was on, finding a movie marathon on TV (hint: SYFY or ABC Family always has one on) where we would compare book and movie differences, we finished a puzzle of Hogwarts, we competed in online Harry Potter quizzes, and problem-solved our way through an online Harry Potter-themed Escape Room. Daniel has an amazing ability to recall the chapter names if you give him the book and number, and we played that a lot. For example — Daniel, what’s Order of the Phoenix Chapter 12?... “Professor Umbridge.” His success rate is remarkable.

The books carried me through April and May. I read a lot, some days for hours on end. They were always with me. It was reading therapy and it was helping. It brought me stability and familiarity. It was healing. I knew that I was in a good place when I had reached the Epilogue in Deathly Hallows and didn’t feel despair that I was finished. It felt like leaving a favorite vacation place; sad it was over but knowing I can return and it will be just as wonderful.

I am now reading the stack of library books I’ve had since pre-COVID. And while so far none of the books has reached Harry Potter levels of enjoyment, I’m at least willing to pick up a new one. To be grateful that I have the energy to do so. To trust that I know what makes me happy and connects me to my family in a way that Facebook or Instagram does not.

Harry Potter got me through the first few months of quarantine. And for that I will be grateful.




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