The character of Harry Potter's birthday is actually July 31st, which is J.K. Rowling's birthday as well.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone being released in the UK.

Soon it would become Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to those of us in the states. I still don't totally understand why it had a different title, but whatever, it's still an awesome book and series.

I jumped on the Harry Potter train (The Hogwarts Express) late and stayed with it until about the third book and then fell behind. However, one boring Summer job in college brought me back to the Potter universe. I got caught up on all the books just in time for the release of the last book.

I remember going to Barnes & Noble for the midnight release of the last book and it was amazing. I didn't wear a costume or anything, but I was in the minority. Barnes & Noble had a huge party leading up to midnight. There was a band and trivia and a costume contest. That was the night of my most nerdy and yet most proud moment of my life. A few people were dressed as dementors, which meant they were basically covered from head to toe in black and they were going around breathing heavily in people's faces. I thought it was annoying so I yelled, "Expecto Petronum!" and they went away.

I remember staying up late to read the last book before anyone else. I remember my brother coming home late after working at a go kart track and I was crying at the kitchen table because it was over. My brother thought I was crazy. But, the ending was so beautiful and I was sad because it was over.

I remember dragging that same brother to the midnight IMAX showing of the last movie and laughing and crying with other moviegoers.

I remember my friend, April, ruining one of the biggest plot twists of the whole series! SPOILER ALERT: Snape kills Dumbledore!!!! What?!?!?!?!

I remember (it still happens even now) getting grief for being an adult Harry Potter fan. Keep in mind the last movie came out when I was fully an adult with a full-time job, but I'm not a quitter. I have to finish what I start!

Neville Longbottom is probably my favorite character. He went from being the awkward, accident prone, weird kid to leading Dumbledore's Army while Harry was away. Not to mention, when he takes out Nagini! I even have a Neville Longbottom wand souvenir thanks to a great friend! Also, Matthew Lewis who plays Neville grew up nicely. (wink, wink)

The video below sums up a lot of my favorite moments from the series as well. There are almost too many to count, but my favorite moments were Harry's relationships with his friends and family. Harry didn't really have family most of his life, he chose his. From Ron and Hermione, to all of the Weasleys to Dobby to Hedwig to Hagrid. They all had a profound affect on Harry and me, for that matter.

I may have got misty-eyed watching that. So what?

Wow! This post got long, but 20 years of memories is hard to condense!

Just keep in mind all the things Harry taught us...'Always.'

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