A few years ago, Dave and I wandered into an Off-Broadway theater to see whatever show had last-minute student tickets. It happened to be a play starring Alan Rickman and Jerry O’Connell about some complicated student/teacher relationship and personal growth. It wasn’t great, and the other actors were distractingly strange. But I got to see Alan Rickman live on stage and that was amazing.
We didn’t rush out with the crowd after the show finished. I always try to avoid running out of a theatre, since I’m anxious in crowds and lines make me nervous. By the time we made our way out the doors, we saw a few people loitering outside. I wondered whether someone had slipped on the ice or if there was a wild animal performing circus acts. Since both of those things peaked my interest, I went to take a look. It was neither. People were waiting for autographs with Alan, Jerry, and the rest of the cast. At that moment, I decided I needed to meet Snape. There was nothing more important. Also, I was told it’d be about four more minutes and I thought that’d be ok.
First, I met Jerry O’Connell, because there I was and I didn’t want to be rude. He was polite and had a nice smile. The best part about meeting Jerry was a couple teenagers nearby yelling, “Hey! It’s Kangaroo Jack!” It flustered him a bit, since clearly he was trying to leave behind his kangaroo wrangling days. I don’t blame him. I couldn’t even remember his name when writing this—I had to google Kangaroo Jack.
Then Snape walked through the door. Immediately, my heart contracted and expanded. I know my heart does that all the time, since it pumps my blood. This was different. I felt like he looked right at me as soon as he came out, though I’m sure he didn’t. He spoke with me and Dave, asking us how we liked the play. I can’t remember what I said or what anyone else around me was doing. This is what I do remember. Alan was exactly how I’d hoped he would be. His voice was the voice of Snape, so I saw Snape in his every move. He was calm and serious. He wasn’t overly friendly, which I appreciated—because we were strangers and because Snape would never smile needlessly. We spoke for a few moments and on he went. It was perfect.
Yesterday, when I found out Alan Rickman had died, I thought about that moment and the feeling I had when I shook Snape’s hand and his deep, complicated voice filled my heart.