JENKINS: Thanks for the memories, Harry Potter

Watching the final Harry Potter movie, I felt the same way I did reading the last of the books: delighted, well-entertained, and more than a little sad.

Of course, I always feel a little sad when I finish a really good story. An avid reader -- maybe beyond avid -- I tend to become totally absorbed in a book and its world. Just ask my wife.

Having spent considerable time with a cast of characters, I'm always sorry to see them go, just as I would be sorry to see my in-laws leave after a week-long visit.

OK, bad example, but you get the point.

Usually, my sadness is mitigated by the knowledge that I can visit those characters anytime I want, just by picking up a book. I certainly feel that way about my favorite trilogy, "The Lord of the Rings," which I've read nine times thus far. This may sound odd to those who are not avid readers, but I think of Frodo and Sam as personal friends, two of my favorite people in the world to spend time with -- even though, technically speaking, they're neither actual people nor in the world.

As I wrote a couple of years ago, I feel like they're "always waiting for me at the edge of The Shire."

I used to feel the same way about Harry Potter. I thought he and Ron and Hermione would always be there for me, that I could visit them at Hogwarts anytime and enjoy a rollicking adventure through the wizarding world.

Now I'm not so sure. I'm afraid that J.K. Rowling's series, though delightful, is locked in time in a way that Tolkien's will never be. Partly, I think, that has to do with the historical setting. LOTR's quasi-medieval backdrop is timeless, whereas HP is set more or less in the modern era -- even though witches and wizards have no need of automobiles and wouldn't know a smart phone if it bit them on the wand.

Perhaps a bigger issue, though, is the series' time-setting in MY history. As a parent whose kids grew up with Harry Potter, I, too, have in some ways come of age with The Boy Who Lived.

To put it another way, I can easily see myself reading LOTR a 10th time, an 11th, a 12th. If I had six months to live, one of the things I would do is read those books one last time.

I'm not sure that's true about HP. Oh, I'll probably read the books again, at least one more time. And I'm sure I won't be able to avoid seeing the movies from time to time.

But I don't think Harry, Ron and Hermione are going to wait for me forever. Like my own kids, they grow up and move on. So to all three of them, I say farewell. And thanks for the memories.

Rob Jenkins is a local free lance writer and college professor. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.