Bevan's daughter turned eight last week but because she'd spent several nights in a row at her mom's house we didn't get to celebrate with her until yesterday. In (sad but) true me fashion, I completely ignored the weeks and weeks of Sidney's blatant announcements about cool games and popular toys and opted to force upon her for her birthday one of my favorite things–Harry Potter.
Before I proceed, I should probably take a few sentences to detail the relationship that Sidney and I share with one another. While she doesn't so much view me as an adult (once when her dad turned off the TV and announced that it was time for her to go to bed, she asked matter-of-factly why I didn't have to go to bed, too), she does, oddly enough, have a certain amount of respect for my clothing choices and, to my complete consternation, considers the way I style my hair to be THE ONLY WAY a person should style their hair ever. In fact, for School Picture Day a few weeks ago she not only requested that I pick out what she wore, she woke me up early on the day of and asked, nay demanded, that I gel her hair for her. In short, even though she doesn't respect me as an authority figure, the girl respects my opinion about stuff.
In the days leading up to her birthday I visited a few bookstores before I found a hardcover copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" at Booksmith in the Haight. As I walked home with the book that night, the clean copy weighing happily in my hands, I found myself wishing that someone might erase the Harry Potter universe from my memory just so I could rediscover it from scratch. When I got home I sat right down at the kitchen table, pointed my headphones to Ingrid Michaelson (for ultimate contemplation and feelz) and set to work on the inscription. I typed out a few drafts on my laptop before settling on a message and then spent a while fine-tuning it. I practiced my handwriting on a piece of scrap paper to ensure maximum legibility before sliding the book toward me. I folded back the cover, cracking the book's spine in the process, and began to write.
Today you turn eight years old. On this momentous occasion I would like to break tradition and make your eight-candle wish on your behalf. For you I wish for magic. Yes, magic. I wish for you a lifetime of magic in every place you go and in every person you meet, in your family, in your friends and in every corner of this wonderful world you’ve got by the tail. And if, for whatever reason, you lose sight of the magic in your life, open up this book and find it again.
Happy birthday, Sid.
After reading the inscription a few dozen times to make sure I'd spelled all of the words right, I closed the book and wrapped it in decorative paper, pulling and taping each corner tight, before placing it on her pillow. Her dad must have told her that there was something waiting for her in her bedroom because she tore up the stairs on Sunday morning and went straight there. I could hear the wrapping paper carnage from my hiding spot down the hall as I waited in anticipation for a scream, a "Cool!" or even a (gasp) "I LOVED these movies!", but nothing came, not a peep.
I had long since retreated to the couch, certain that Sidney was under the covers with a flashlight engrossed in Harry's adventures, when she came out of her room a while later holding the book.
"Harry Potter is my favorite thing ever!" I spasmed, leaving cool a thousand miles away.
"Really?" she asked.
"Really! It's sooo good!"
"Why do you like it so much?"
"I don't even know where to start! It's got magic and wizards and witches and secret rooms and trap doors and giant trolls and broomsticks and wands and ghosts and..."
"Really?" she asked again, cutting me off.
"Yes really! The series changed my life. It is my absolute favorite thing to read in the whole entire world. I love it sooo much."
"Well then," she said, looking me square in the eyes, "I'll trade it to you for your hair gel."