Yes. I am a Gryffindor.
I bring this up on the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter, because mostly Facebook asked me what my house was, and I said Gryffindor.
"Oh, so you're the chosen one," everyone who isn''t Gryffindor (in other words, everyone) says.
"So you have Main Character syndrome."
"Yeah. Everyone and their dog is Gryffindor."
Everyone is everything but a Gryffindor, because they don't want to be the fantasy equivalent of a man bun.
Ravenclaws are smart and intellectual. Slytherins are badass and on the edge. Hufflepuffs are about 90 percent of the fandom, because let's face it, Harry Potter people are amazing and sweet and are very good finders.
"Everyone is a Gryffindor," everyone says, putting on their not-Gryffindor scarves.
At school, I tried to put together a Hogwarts festival. We couldn't do it. Because there were forty something Ravenclaws and me and some other kid in the Gryffindor house and all the professors refused to be our Head of House. The Hufflepuff Head of House had already designed presents for all the Hufflepuffles. Gryffindors? We were an army of two. And there was no mathematical way we were going to win the house cup.
That is to say, it was canceled on account of no Gryffindors.
I'm pretty sure there were more Gryffindors back in the day. It was cool back then. Be like the trio. But then everyone realized there were other houses and other stories and they expanded their horizons. That's fine.
But I'm a Gryffindor.
I've always been a Gryffindor.
"Are you sure though?" People will say. "What did Pottermore say?"
They all said Gryffindor.
"But you don't really know thought right?" they say. "I think you're more Hufflepuff."
My entire sense of self was thrown out of whack when at the age of fourteen, I was wrongly diagnosed as a Slytherin at Harry Potter camp.
I'm brave to a fault. I work hard and help others and yes I like recognition for it but I do it for a moral compass, not to be a hero, and that can be misconstrued sometimes. Sometimes I fall short. Sometimes I can't see past the end of my nose. Sometimes I get wrapped up in whatever is happening in the center of the story I don't see the really cool stuff happening everywhere else. I jump into the middle of the mosh and I suffocate. That's okay.
I'm also the first person who will be there when you are crushed with life changing news. I will fight to the death next to your side, even if it's just some stupid puppy love broken heart or your puppy has pissed all over your rug or you have to face something worse, like your own personal dementors.
I know who I am. And that's a strong thing to know.
Happy twenty years, Harry Potter.
As I started thinking of how to combine these two ideas, I kept having this averse reaction to the idea of science making soul mates. The lack of agency in the articles that covered thirty minutes of staring at each other in order to program the brain to empathize/fall in love, and also the erasure of choice for Psyche in the myth both ran against my grain. Of course you can trick your brain into loving someone. But for a character who is intelligent, strong-willed, and wanting something deeper than a trick ... would it work then?
And I realized, while deciding what exactly this story was going to be, that I was so defensive and offended because of something weird that had happened to me.
In 2010, I saw a photograph of a man in a vest, thick curly hair, and big green blue eyes that held galaxies in them. I had no idea what his name was, where he came from, what flavor of cereal he ate growing up, none of it. But I said to my brother, "So I think I saw my soul mate today."
And when I met that man, and I hugged that man, it was like I'd been waiting my whole life to find him again. Whatever the hell that means.
After we were married, he told me he felt that weird feeling, too.
There's something deeper to all this love stuff. Love shouldn't be stressful or forced or forced upon or a scientific formula. It's something I can't explain. It's something I'm not sure an article or a myth can explain.
But we can try. I mean, that's one reason why we write about it, study it, remember it through lore.
Divya poses a very good question at the end of the recording. It's gotten me thinking in a whole new way about this story. And through her question, I realize, as it's now in the world and considered a finished product, I'm only starting to understand this one.
To read or listen "Nozizwe and Almahdi" on Escape Pod, click here.
So I've definitely already made this announcement in real life. But I haven't officially told my blog and the website what's going on.
Tonight, I watched Hasan Minhaj's Netflix special. Toward the end, he talks about his callbacks for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. When he finally landed the gig, he wanted to say, "Jon ... this is the one thing I've gotten that my dad knows."
What comes out is, "Jon. My dad knows you!"
I lost it. I laughed and laughed. Because this is exactly the thought I had when I got the acceptance email from Charlie Finlay at Fantasy and Science Fiction.
My dad has never read a word of what I've written. I've published a book. I've been in an anthology. I've gotten enough sales where I'm now Active SFWA. Even back when I lived in Chicago and wrote plays, he never came and saw them. And I guess that's a good thing, because my mom got mad at my portrayal of a dad character in my junior year project.
But Dad knows what F&SF is.
When I quit my dayjob to be a writer, he worried. He told me, "Can't you at least sub for the district?" And I said, "No. I'm cutting this off completely."
But when I got this sale. My dream sale. The one I'd been working for ... he took me out to eat. He said, "They sell that in real bookstores!" He said, "That's where Dark Tower was." He said, "When I was a kid, I had F&SF all over my room. It got me through my childhood."
There are still miles to go. There are a million things I haven't done. But Charlie ... my dad knows you.
What is this?
Dawson is an editor and writer and MFA student at Stonecoast. She writes stuff.