We went out of town for a few days to visit family and, while away, happened upon a little girl with dark hair and round glasses, age three. No, she's not British. No, she's not living with some horrible Dursley-esque family. And, no, she clearly isn't anything (physically) like the scarred, young male hero J.K. Rowling made famous. But I watched her playing outside on slides and such for nearly an hour, and I wouldn't be surprised if she were a bit magical.
Well, perhaps I'm a bit sensitive to the big-eyed-child-lost-in-a-confusing-and-often-hostile-world theme these days. I am, after all, rereading Harry Potter from Book One onward to my son (although I'll confess to not yet having finished the entire series myself--a result of too much required reading, not lack of interest). And, as I try to use voices to charm my little boy into the story, I find myself being enchanted yet again, right along with him. Feeling the curse of mismatch between a person's spirit and his environment. The sting of human cruelty. The unparalleled amazement of eventually finding a truer sense of "home" than the one previously known.
Many of us have experienced these things and have lived long enough to tell the tale. (Or several tales, for those of us who are novelists. :) But the little girl I saw playing outside was just beginning on this journey--one that I sensed wouldn't always be kind to her. Nevertheless, she approached the playground "monsters" with eager eyes and a willing heart. It was as if she believed magic were somewhere to be found to help her--behind a tree, underneath a piece of play equipment, alongside another child, within herself... As if she believed her hopefulness and openness would be enough to inspire the same in others and to combat anything that turned its evil eye on those she loved.
And the wondrous, magical part for me is that she reminded me in an instant of how much I wish the same, how much I want to believe it, too, right along with her.