Monday, April 5, 2010
Driving to Hogwarts
In my dreams, I am awoken by the thunderous sound of my island prison’s door as it is thrown to the floor and I look up into the face of an absurdly gigantic stranger. He stomps in, shoots flames out of the small umbrella he is holding to tender a fire in the dormant fireplace, casually walks over to me, and proceeds to hand me a letter. My hands are shaking as I read the strange letter informing me that I have been accepted to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry. Confused, I turn to the stranger who has introduced himself as Hagrid and kindly express my confusion in the letter’s meaning. Hagrid, plagued by his own confusion says, “Blimey Ryan, hasn’t anybody told you?” I reply with the question “Told me what?” Hagrid leans in close and whispers: “You’re a wizard Ryan.” Excited, I wake up only to find out the sad truth that I have no magical powers and I will not, in fact, be attending Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I have been plagued by the same dream over and over ever since I read the first edition of J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece, but today my luck was about to turn around.
I walked into the Avis car rental office located at one of Paris’ largest train stations and slowly confirmed in Franglish that I had indeed rented a not-so-sporty coupe that could safely transfer my wife, my two friends, and me through the French countryside to the mysterious island of Mont Saint Michel. After a short stop-over at the opulently gaudy palace of Versailles, I found myself racing towards the Normandy coast at speeds exceeding 130 km/h (that’s only 75 mph, but it sounds cooler when I use the metric system). We pulled up to our majestic location just as night began to fall and excitement swelled up inside me as I realized that Mont Saint Michel looked just like the movie set from each Harry Potter film. Even the harsh reality of being awake and the lack of any visible “whomping willow” could not sway my fantastical determination to remain in the mindset that I was in fact visiting the true Hogwarts. So I remained in my dream world as we explored the medieval castle and enjoyed picturesque views of the English Channel. Somewhere far away it seemed, Uncle Vernon and the cruelty of the real world awaited my inevitable return, but for one incredible day at least I was in every sense of the word a “wizard”.