The past three nights I have struggled to keep my eyes open as I've driven home from various locations. I arrived back in Chicago on Monday afternoon, forced myself to stay up until 9:00 (which was 5am Romanian time), and then climbed gratefully into my own bed and succumbed to the weariness of travel and over a week of hot days, short nights, and constant activity. 12 hours later I awoke, refreshed, glad to be home, and feeling like maybe that one marathon snooze had licked the time difference. Not so. I was fine until I got behind the wheel Tuesday night to drive home from Chicago. I had the radio cranked and was pinching myself and biting my cheeks the whole way in an effort to make it home before my heavy eyelids declared victory over my will to stay alert. Wednesday was the same - I felt fine all throughout the day, then when it was time to drive home after my stint at B&N fatigue hit and once again I pinched and prayed my way home. I thought that surely by yesterday my body would have adjusted, but again last night on my way home from church, getting behind the wheel triggered sleepiness and I fought to stay alert. When I got home at 10:30 common sense told me to go to bed, my body ached to go to bed, but my brain? My brain was determined to stay awake long enough to make it through the last 100 pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
I had found a copy of the British edition in a bookstore in Romania the day it was released around the world, and decided that would be my souvenir. I started reading it on the flight from Milan to Chicago, bonding with the college kid sitting next to me, who was fighting his own fatigue from a week-long soccer tour in an effort to finish book number 5 before we reached the States. As he read the climactic clash at the book's end, I smiled as he sat hunched over the book, quietly laughing and gasping in turn as the scene unfolded, occasionally turning to me to ask questions or discuss the significance of something that had just happened.
I made it about half-way through HP7 before we touched down at O'Hare, and continued to fill most spare moments of wakefulness with reading over the past few days. I read on and on, wanting to know how it all ends and yet not wanting it all to end. And then last night (or more accurately, early this morning), buoyed by some Diet Coke and more than a little adrenalin, I reached the satisfying conclusion. Well done, J.K. Rowling. Well done, Harry.
As I closed the book, my mind still whirring with how it all turned out, I found myself wanting to go back to the beginning and read the whole thing again, to catch and savor some of the elements I'm sure I missed or rushed through in my eagerness for the story to unfold. I will, however, save the rereading for a later time, because also released while I was out of the country was First Amongst Sequels, book number 5 in Jasper's Fforde's Thursday Next series, that I have been eagerly anticipating for quite some time. So, from an England full of wizards and spells I turn to an England full of literary detectives and narrative mayhem. Hurrah!