In a Twitter chat the other night I mentioned Luna Lovegood, which made me think of one of my favorite moments in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, when Harry is looking around Luna’s bedroom just before everything goes horribly wrong, and sees the pictures of himself, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Neville that Luna’s painted on the ceiling:“What appeared to be fine golden chains wove around the pictures, linking them together, but after examining them for a minute or so, Harry realized that the chains were actually one word, repeated a thousand times in golden ink: friends…friends…friends…friends… Harry felt a great rush of affection for Luna. “
I both admire and relate very much to Luna as a character, and that paragraph illustrates one of the big reasons why. Luna’s very much an outcast at Hogwarts, an odd girl who deals with more than her share of cruelty, and the attention she lavishes on that portrait of her friends in Dumbledore’s Army makes it crystal clear how rare it’s been for her to experience that kind of friendship, how much she cherishes it, and how lucky she is to have fallen in with people like Harry who can respond in kind.
In my teens I was not as innately sweet and good-hearted as Luna, and I was often unable to practice her brand of appreciation for the friends I did have. As a result I went through some long and intense periods of alienation and loneliness, which have left their mark. But I feel more capable of that kind of recognition and acknowledgment now, and I feel like I have more and more friends who are as meaningful to me as Harry and company were to Luna.
It occasionally still feels shocking and unreal, but more and more often it feels real and wonderful and as intense as the loneliness once was, except this intensity lies at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. I got to spend the day with two of those friends yesterday, and maybe that’s why I’ve fallen over and landed on this giant, fluffy, saccharine-scented pillow of introspection. You’ll forgive me, I think. Right? I feel very happy today. Friends…friends…