Here we are, fellow wizards, we’re over halfway through the Houses. I’ve already styled Hufflepuff and Slytherin in a vintage Amy style, and today we look at Gryffindor, along with my story of how the series lead me to face up to some of my deepest anxieties and how it resulted in my flying across the world to attend the wedding of someone I’d never met.
Top: Old top by Heart of Haute (can’t find the name, sorry)
Skirt: Mustard Peggy Sue skirt by Lindy Bop
Belt: New Look
Bag: Emmy basket bag by Joanie Clothing
Shoes: New Look
Gryffindor pin: Old Primark Gryffindor pin set
The Gryffindor colours are red and gold, as I’m sure you’re aware, but I didn’t want to be too obnoxiously bright with this outfit. As such, I leaned into my feeling that it should be a casual, easy-going outfit and opted to represent the red with this striped Heart of Haute top rather than with a big block of plain red. To keep the outfit more casual I interpreted the gold as this rich goldy-mustard circle skirt, rather than choosing a true metallic gold that would automatically add a lot of glitz and sparkle. A curly ponytail and somewhat imperfect little poof in place of a fringe felt like an easy hairstyle the Gryffindor version of Amy might throw together before she headed out socialising with friends or to see a Quidditch match, and this Joanie Clothing Emmy bag made sense with that feeling on the whole. Finally, a pair of simple red ballet pumps and a Gryffindor pin from Primark finished the outfit off with house pride.
Gryffindors In My Life
My friend Sarah Forshaw and, like…that’s it? Every other Gryffindor I know are people who haven’t read the books whom I have mentally sorted into Gryffindor myself, like my best friends Menna and Laura. My dad probably would’ve been a Gryffindor.
How Harry Potter Made Me Brave & That Wedding Story
I have always been socially shy with new people, but as a teenager that developed into true social anxiety, worsening as I transitioned into my 20s and developing further still into intense travel anxiety. At its worse point even meeting up with some of my best friends felt like a difficult task and I often cancelled on plans made with people I didn’t know as well when the day drew nearer and I just couldn’t face it.
It was a slow process lessening my anxiety levels over the years, and specifically to work on the anxiety I felt in travelling to new places or using private or public transport that ran on a schedule and was, fundamentally, not under my control. Friends and family supported me with great patience and effort by travelling with me to places I hadn’t been before so that I didn’t miss out on things I did, really, want to experience, or so that I felt more comfortable going alone later on should the need arise. One such journey meant to lower my anxiety was to London.
By train, London is little more than an hour away from where I live, though a car ride to the train station and the practical cushion needed to ensure no complications in that transfer does make the journey 2 hours each way in reality. It seems a simple and easy trip to most people, but to me my nervousness in dealing with train schedules and transfers (and god forbid possible cancellations) made it not worth even contemplating the journey. However, in my early 20s, many years since I had last been to London on a school museum trip by coach, my mum and younger sister helped me by coming with me to London the first time I met one of the friends, Rachel, that I had made in those recent years on a UK Harry Potter forum following my dad’s passing. (I gave the full story of how I met those friends in last week’s Slytherin post.)
During our day in London Rachel explained the Underground system to me, helping to ease my anxiety with the Tube. That help allowed me over the following year to feel confident in at least navigating myself and others around the tourist and landmarks routes of the city for the weekends I then spent exploring London with my boyfriend at the time, who was a staff sergeant in the US Army stationed in Germany and visiting me regularly in London.
When my partner was later stationed in Texas, I faced my travel anxiety head on to fly to El Paso, alone, to see him. It was a trip that saw me almost sick with nerves when I focused on the travel portion of the holiday, peppering my well-traveled friends with embarrassed logistical questions about what would happen during the security clearance, what I had to do with my luggage when I made my transfer in Dallas, what, exactly, it all entailed. I had only flown long-distance once before at 21 with a friend on a trip to Florida that was such a disaster it saw us returning 3 days early just to be done with it all, but my distress over that trip meant I recalled nothing about airport logistics of that journey except taking our shoes off at the airport.
Flying alone was fine. Had the end reward not been that I got to be reunited with a desperately missed partner whom I had not seen in person for a year I certainly wouldn’t have pushed myself to do it, but because I did it erased a lot of the fear I had for that kind of journey. It meant that two years later when my friend Charisse from that same Harry Potter UK forum–whom I had never met and spoke with only semi-regularly now that we were both well ensconced in our adult lives–invited me to her wedding in Virginia, I accepted without worry.
So in October 2015, I got on a plane by myself, with a suitcase full of dresses and English chocolate and biscuits, and flew to Virginia to meet my friend for the first time at her wedding, with plans to meet 2 other friends for the first time ever as well on that same trip. I checked into my hotel, where our friend Mand, also from the forum, drove down after work in New Jersey to arrive at midnight. We had known each other 12 years at that point, had periods of quietness in which our changing lives saw us communicating very little, and periods where we had relied upon each other during great emotional upheaval, and in a hotel room not far from Washington Dulles airport, we hugged each other for the first time in the middle of the night on the eve of our friend’s wedding.
Mand and I explored Old Town Alexandria that weekend and relished being able to do all the stupid things together that you can’t do when your friends are available to you only online. We were honoured and touched that not only were we invited to the Rehearsal Dinner with other out of town guests, but that we got to sit with the bride and groom at their table to make the most of our time together. That night was the first night we got to meet Charisse in person, whom I had always affectionately called Chee, and it was wonderful to create new in-jokes together, in person, while reminiscing over all the ones we had made in late night/early morning AIM chats years before online.
We all breakfasted together the morning of the wedding, and at the wedding I was the charmingly novelty English girl in the fancy vintage style outfit and red lipstick who was introduced to everyone as the girl Chee had met online who flew over from England especially to be there. I cried a lot at the ceremony, I think we all did, and even now years later I think it’s the best wedding I’ve ever been to. It felt sad at the end of the night that that must be the last chance we would have to see Chee before I left for Texas the next afternoon, but it was unbearably sweet that the newlyweds met us for breakfast again the next morning before we all reluctantly dispersed, scattering again to our various corners of the country and globe.
I flew on to Dallas, where I met Sarah Forshaw for the first time ever as well, another friend I had made online, this time through the pinup community on Instagram. She hadn’t read Harry Potter at the time, so I certainly can’t claim The Boy Who Lived brought us together–it was definitely red lipstick and pincurls–but after marrying a man who is in love with the series, it’s been so sweet to check in on Sarah occasionally to discover where she is in the series as she reads it for the first time.
Had I never read Harry Potter and made those friends online, I never would have taken that trip to London to meet Rachel which emboldened my confidence in travelling in the years that followed. I never would have met my now-ex and fallen in love for the first time, nor overcome my anxiety in order to travel alone to be reunited with him. And had I not made that trip to see him, I doubt I would have had the casual courage to make a similar trip years later to finally develop real-life memories in person with those women who had helped support me when I was a freshly grieving girl of 17 just looking for a way to get along.
I’m not a Gryffindor, I’ve always considered my natural tendency towards worrying and anxiety a disposition that would discount me from qualifying as one, but when I look back at the times I felt scared but summoned my courage so I could support my loved ones or to traverse the globe to be with them, I suppose I can claim a bit of Neville Longbottom deep in my heart. I can definitely credit the Harry Potter series as a whole for influencing my life and linking me with people who helped nurture a sense of bravery in me that didn’t come easily.
Also, obviously, don’t meet people from online that you haven’t known for a great while and video-chatted with. Catfishes are real but so are predators. I knew all of my friends for many years, Skype’d with them regularly and for hours, and had been introduced to many of their family and friends by video before we ever met in person, in public, as knowledgeable adults who knew and trusted each other well.
My Favourite Gryffindors
In a way, Gryffindor house is probably the house I relate to least, because of that aforementioned tendency towards worry and also my liking for remaining comfortable at all costs. It’s probably funny, then, that all of my favourite characters from the series are Gryffindors, so much so that it would take up too much time to name them all here in this post and to detail why I love them. Because of that I’ll be gushing about them in next week’s Ravenclaw post when I focus on all my favourite aspects of the books as an ode to Ravenclaws’ love for details and knowledge. But spoiler alert: there’s more than one Weasley involved and two professors.
Why I Love Gryffindors
Gryffindors are so ready to get everyone hype. Whether it’s a challenge at work everyone is dreading or an actual party, Gryffindors are primed to get everyone motivated to crack on or to crack up. They always have great suggestions of cool, new or interesting places and events to go to that you’ve never heard of before. If you have to cancel on them they don’t get mad. They’re willing to help you move, even if they don’t necessarily want to, and they know the best hidden routes to get you where you’re going without hitting traffic. They’ll buy you good birthday or Christmas gifts without asking for ideas because they’re willing to get it wrong but they care enough to try. They probably still call you by the same nickname they gave you when you first met, even if that was when you were both 5. They’re willing to try.
Are you a Gryffindor? Do you view the house as home to obnoxious pranksters and block-headed jocks? Who’s your favourite Gryffie? Leave a comment below!