SALT LAKE CITY — As the final "Harry Potter" movie is scheduled to be released, I have felt an unexpected sadness leading up to the date. It almost feels like I am losing a friend. To many people who have not read the books, the "Harry Potter" series may seem childish or nerdy. I, sadly, used to be one of these people. But ever since I discovered the books when I was 13, I too have been captivated by their magic. I was reading the books when they were first being released, and I have stuck with them to the end. I have literally grown up with not only the series but with Harry Potter, the character. These books initially gave me the passion I have for writing, which in turn led to pursuing a degree in creative writing. I can proudly and unashamedly say that I am 24, a wife and a mother of two, and an avid "Harry Potter" fan.

I discovered the magic of "Harry Potter" when I was in eighth grade. My mom and I were driving to Provo from Nevada to visit my grandparents when my mom took "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" from her purse and handed to me. She said, “I picked up this book for you. I thought you might like it.” I remember my response because, for one thing, it was a rather bratty reply, and for another, I was about to eat my words.

“Mom, 'Harry Potter' is what the dorky kids read. It looks so stupid, and I don’t want people to think that I read it. That’s embarrassing!” I turned and stared out the window.

“Chelsea, just read the first chapter and see what happens," my mom said. "Humor me.”

While rolling my eyes, I very reluctantly took the book and looked at the cover. A geeky-looking boy with glasses, riding on a broomstick? Yeah, this is bound to be a good book, I thought with plenty of sarcasm.

I began reading the first chapter, snorting at the weird names (Dumbledore? McGonagall?), and scoffing at the pretend magical world. Yet, to my embarrassment, I approached the end of the chapter very intrigued.

“How is it so far?” my mom asked with a smile on her face.

“Umm, it’s alright, I guess,” I lied. I continued to the end of the first chapter and read, "To Harry Potter, the boy who lived!” I got goosebumps. I was hooked.

I almost finished "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" by the time we reached Provo. I asked my mom if I could get the other books, and we found out my sister owned them but had never read them. I spent the next two weeks with my nose in a book. My family had to physically drag me into the kitchen to eat or spend time with them. I actually earned the name “Chelsea Potter” because all I would do was read those books.

After devouring the fourth book and begging my mom to take me to the bookstore to get the next one, we were told that the fifth book hadn’t even been written yet. You can imagine my devastation. There was nothing for it but to read all of them over again… and again, and again.

I didn’t tell anyone at school about my summer with "Harry Potter." I was still too embarrassed that I was reading a children’s series about wizards, magic and muggles. But I soon found out that one of my good friends, Mary, liked "Harry Potter," too. A real person to talk about theories with! What’s going to happen? Will Harry have to fight Lord Voldemort (oops!) He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? Will Harry ever date Cho? We kept our nerdy secret between ourselves.

Then we heard they were making a movie! I called Mary up and we made plans immediately to go it the first night it came out. It totally met our expectations.

“Hagrid is exactly how I imagined him,” Mary exclaimed.

“Harry, Ron and Hermione were awesome,” my 14-year-old self agreed.

My whirlwind romance with the "Harry Potter" series continued over the years, and as it continued, I began to make my love for the series public. I believed it to be brilliant work by J.K. Rowling, and I wasn’t afraid to tell anyone. I was a "Harry Potter" nerd, addict, enthusiast, etc., and I have a very good memory of where I was when each movie or book was released.

It was these books that initially gave me my love for writing. I enrolled in several English classes in high school, and in college I went for a degree in English. I landed my first job at college in the university’s writing center as a tutor by submitting a research paper I had written on the "Harry Potter" series. I eventually graduated with a degree in writing, and I certainly owe some of that credit to Ms. Rowling herself.

Now all of the books are released, and soon all the movies will be, too. As this time comes, let us take a moment to honor the end of an era. May we raise our wands to the end of a period where thousands of children, teenagers, adults and seniors have been enchanted by a fictional series of brilliance; a time where all ages alike have claimed that the books by author J.K. Rowling have given them a love for reading. Let us acknowledge this series for what it has done to the world of literature.

Thank you for letting all of us grow up with you, Harry. It truly has been a magical journey.

Chelsea is a wife and a full-time mother of two. She loves to read, write and spend time with her family.