I arrived in Denmark on August 2nd, 2005. Seventeen days earlier, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released.
Now, normally, 17 days would have been more than enough time for me to finish the 652 pages.
Sleeping, being, of course, nothing but a silly distraction when there is fresh Harry Potter on the table.
If you remember, though, book five was a slow-moving 870 page behemoth of a book, and, as July approached that summer, I realized that I hadn't completely absorbed it the first time around.
And so, just to be safe, I decided to re-read book five before beginning book six.
This was a late decision, though, so I hadn't actually finished my book five re-read by the time book six was released.
(It's a sign of my reverence for these novels, I think, that my impulse is to spell them "Book Five" and "Book Six".)
(Screw it. That is how I'm going to spell them.)
So that's how I found myself living in Denmark, half way through Book Five of the Harry Potter series, with Book Six safely tucked away into the on-deck circle of my suitcase.
With 1000 pages of Harry Potter to get through, my first days in Denmark had a clear structure:
During every moment that was not explicitly scheduled, there was only one place for me to be.
On the couch, on my stomach, my whole head pressed into the world of Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
I don't think this was a defense mechanism, I don't think it was a self-preserving reaction to a new and completely unknown environment.
I really think it was just about the books.
It would be absurd, though, to claim complete understanding of my 16 year old sub-conscious.
Either way, my conscious experience of those first weeks was not one of escapism.
I wasn't hiding from anything ...
There was Harry Potter to read, people!
To me, my actions were sensible and logical and not even a tiny bit weird or obsessive.
Which is why, eleven months later, I was so shocked and amused to find out that my host parents had been terribly worried about me during that time.
A kid that sticks her head in a book at every available moment, they thought, is surely a kid suffering under crippling homesickness.
We laughed about it and assured them: I wasn't miserable ...
I was just obsessed with Harry Potter.
There in the airport, we reminisced and laughed and clarified, speaking together in Danish.
And I could not believe that this July 2006 Danish language was the same as that August 2005 Danish.
Somehow, that mumbled unintelligible soundtrack, the noises swirling around my head as I read Harry Potter, somehow they had organized themselves.
Somehow, I managed to identify and label those sounds, line them up next to their English cousins, and learn how to insert them into new grammar structures, new Danish ones.
Somehow, eleven months later, there I sat.
Teasing and laughing and reminiscing, using all those labeled and organized sounds to express my real, full, human ideas.
I never really truly learned the language, though.
I won't be truly fluent ...
until I can read Harry Potter in Danish.