I was nine years old when The Fellowship of the Ring came out. I was occasionally confused by Gandalf, completely terrified by the orcs, and, come the closing credits, utterly enthralled. I devoured the books, immersing myself in Tolkien’s world. I learned the songs, I studied the timelines, I poured over the maps – and, like most young girls at the time, I was in love with Legolas.
When the new Hobbit trailer was released and the pointy-eared prince made his return, I fangirled so hard I embarrassed myself.
Honestly, it was pretty bad. Like I was nine years old again.
In light of the upcoming movie, we had a Lord of the Rings marathon last weekend. Extended editions, of course. There was pizza and pillow forts and lemon meringue pie and elves.
I really love the elves.
I’m pretty sure my family was hoping I’d grow out of my Tolkien phrase at some point, but it turns out I haven’t. Middle-Earth is as exciting as it was when I was a lonely fourth grader reading those ridiculously heavy tomes during lunch. I still hum along with the soundtracks, I still sing Elvish songs, I still pretend I’m a shield maiden of Rohan when the wind catches my hair or imagine I’m an elf when I walk through trees. I’m twenty years old. I told you it was embarrassing.
It’s difficult to put into words what the stories mean to me, or why they mean so much. After all, they’re just stories. I’m well aware they’re not real, that the whole world is made up, but Tolkien’s world brought me incredible joy growing up, and continues to do so today. It began my love of fantasy, and fuels my desire to create worlds of my own. I hope I might one day bring readers a fraction of the excitement and happiness Tolkien brought me.
Sometimes I encounter people who are only just discovering this world now that the Hobbit movies are happening. I am more than happy to welcome them into the fold of the Tolkien fandom, but part of me doesn’t quite understand how they did it. Not only do I wonder how they managed to avoid the craze back when the movies were originally released, but I wonder how these stories haven’t been part of their lives because I honestly don’t know way that would be like. What did these people read and watch and obsess over in their formative years? How did they escape this witchcraft when I got caught?
(Yes, it has occurred to me that I am the exception, not the rule. Apparently most people are able to live their lives without getting deeply emotionally invested in fictional tales. This confuses me)
I love Tolkien. I will always love Tolkien. I’ve given up trying to figure out why and decided to just enjoy it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to planning my next trip to New Zealand. I wanna go to Hobbiton.