Tomorrow, at 9 AM Chamorro Standard Time I will pick up a brand new copy of the final Harry Potter book. I'll have it about 5 hours before everyone on the East Coast.
Prepare yourself for a story:
I first picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in April 2000, the day after my last day in college.
During my last week of college, my father fell ill and was hospitalized in Saipan. His condition was so bad that he was med-evacuated to Hawaii.
As I studied for my final exams I knew that there was a pretty good chance that I would have to fly to Hawaii to be by his side. In preparation for that, instead of getting ready for Beach Week, when all University of Richmond Seniors hang out for one last week between their final exams and graduation, I was packing to return to Florida immeadiatly following my last exam.
I loaded my car ahead of time and left Richmond minutes after handing in my final exam (I don't remember which one it was). When I arrived in Florida 12 hours later I immediately called my stepmother. I asked her if I needed to be there. She simply answered, "Yes." I hung up the phone and called Continental. I bought a ticket for a flight that left a few hours later.
At 5 AM in the Orlando International Airport everything is closed. The only thing open was a magazine stand. I had been so rushed, that I had forgotten to bring something to read on the plane.
Most of the books had Fabio on the cover, which, contrary to the picture in Caption Contest II, is not my cup of tea. On a whim, I decided to pick up a book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I knew nothing about the book other than it was a bestseller.
Exhausted, I slept on the flight from Orlando to Houston.
On the flight from Houston to Honolulu I started reading the book. I read it cover to cover without stopping. I didn't even take a bathroom break. The book was the perfect escape from the impending drama I was about to face.
My Dad's sister, Nan Chet, met me at the airport and took me to the hospital to see my father. My stepmother and my sister were already there. My three brothers who grew up in Saipan came a few days later with their uncle and Alex came a few days after them.
We all stayed in Hawaii until Dad stabilized, then we all returned to Saipan.
I bought both Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban during those difficult days in the ICU in Hawaii.
Again, the books were the best escape from the pain I was facing in the real world. The real world sucked. My father was dying right in front of me and I was missing my college graduation. In reading those books though, I was like Harry getting sucked into Tom Riddle's diary in the second book; The world around me just disappeared and all I could see was Hogwarts. The pain was not able to invade the magical world created by J.K. Rowling.
My heart beats faster just thinking about clutching book seven (five hours before, Amy and Emily, nonetheless). Although I'm sure I'll reread each of the books multiple times over the course of my life, tomorrow is the last time that I'll get to read a Harry Potter book for the first time.
At 9:15 Chamorro Standard Time (7:15 PM Friday on the East Coast) I am going to publish the ending to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.