My Fangirl Story is a regular feature in which members of our team share our fangirl origin stories. Our journeys have similarities and differences, but they all result in us becoming the people we are today. Kris kicked off the first post on this topic in December with My Fangirl Story: Han Solo, My First Crush and KG followed it up last month with My Fangirl Story: All In On The Backstreet Boys. Now it’s my turn.
My first fandom shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone who has read my posts before (a number of them have been dedicated to it!) but there’s one thing I haven’t discussed about this topic yet. That is because, up until recently, I didn’t have all the facts. Now let me share how it all began. Let me tell you the story of the first time I saw Titanic.
Titanic was released in theaters on December 19, 1997. I remember wanting to see it from the first ad I saw on tv, and I remember thinking Leo was gorgeous. The pull was strong. I HAD to see it. However, I was 10 and my parents weren’t sure if the movie would be age appropriate. I actually don’t think it was until Kris went with her parents that my mom decided to take me.
The actual date I first saw Titanic remained a mystery for 17 years. I knew it was sometime in early 1998, quite a while after it was first released. But for so long the actual date eluded me. After 17 years I finally got my answer just a few weeks ago.
I was home at my parents’ house and my dad was having me go through some old school work. It was in some boxes among normal basement clutter. The answer I’d been searching for was packed somewhere between my Fourth Grade art projects and spelling tests. In here I found my school journal. Each week I would write a letter to my teacher, which she would respond to, then a letter to my mom, who would also write back. It was quite entertaining to read through. Suddenly there it was! On March 4, 1998 I found a journal entry to my teacher. It read: “last Sunday I saw Titanic”. There it was, after all these years. I had written it down like it was my own personal time capsule. All I had to do now was look at a calendar from 1998 and search out the Sunday before. February 28, 1998. Out of all 10,000+ of my days, this is one of the ones that changed me the most.
The movie ended and just like *that* I became obsessed. Like actually obsessed. I’ve been obsessed with things since (numerous things since) but Titanic remains my #1. I wrote a bit about how obsessed I became last year on the 103rd anniversary of the sinking, but I want to elaborate now.
- After I saw Titanic (on February 28, 1998) I went shopping with my mom. I remember crying in the change room a couple of hours after the movie ended, still not over Jack & Rose’s separation.
- Reading through the rest of my Grade 4 journals I think I mentioned Titanic in every entry… at least in the ones to my mom. I kept asking if she would take me to see it again. She never did…
- I taped the 1998 Academy Awards when Titanic won 11 Oscars. I watched that VHS religiously over the next year. I could probably name everyone who won an Oscar that year, both Titanic related and not. The VHS still exists in my parents’ basement. Also, Leo was totes snubbed that year.
- After Titanic was released on video I watched it every day after school, literally. Every. Single. Day. I almost wore out the VHS.
- I had every magazine I could find with Leo’s face on it. I also had a number of books about Leo and a movie. #LeoMania
- The mirror in my bedroom was covered in photos. Kris gave me a black & white poster of Jack & Rose’s first kiss while flying and I kept it front and center on my mirror for years (definitely still have it somewhere).
- In Grade 5 I used the name Leo, Kate, Jack, or Rose in every one of the stories I had to write, the majority of which were set on the Titanic. My teacher even wrote on a couple of my assignments that I needed to be ‘more original’ or that my story ‘seemed familiar’.
- My coach gave me two figure skating programs to Titanic music.
- My gym shirt for Grade 5 had the Titanic movie poster on it (I still own it).
- I bought the ‘Heart of the Ocean’ necklace and wore it every day to school (I still own that too).
- I bought both soundtracks and listened to “My Heart Will Go On” on repeat for hours (most often with dialogue from the movie).
By now I was 11 and I was crazy. Completely Obsessed.
But there’s one part to this story that I have yet to mention… and it might be the part that’s affected me the most. Around the time the movie came out I discovered a book on the sinking of the Titanic. It was my Grandpa’s, but he didn’t need it as much as me. I remember flipping through this giant book and being amazed by the photos of this boat at the bottom of this ocean. This grand ship looked so hauntingly beautiful, yet so cold. It was then that I realized this was a real event. This was a real tragedy that happened in 1912. This quite possibly sparked my interest in history. I was just a kid and I wanted to know everything I could about the Titanic… so I learned it all.
I bought a number of books about Leo but I also bought a number a books about the actual ship / its sinking. I fell in love with the actual Titanic and its story. There’s still something I find so fascinating about it to this day. I’ve read all the books, and watched all the documentaries – I threw myself all in. I wrote a blog post last year about why we still care about the Titanic.
In the years to follow I’ve seen Titanic a number of times in theaters. I’ve seen the Titanic Artifacts Exhibit twice. I saw the dry dock where the Titanic was built in Belfast. I’m now 27 and I haven’t watched Titanic in months but it’s still my #1. It will always be my first. It’s what turned me into the fangirl I am today. I can’t even imagine what I would have been like if there was such a thing as tumblr or I knew what fan fiction was back in 1998.
My love for Titanic has not wavered in the past 17 years, and neither has my love for Leo & Kate. These two are my ultimate #1 OTP (though Leo, stop talking about Alberta already). I almost couldn’t handle the photos of them together at the SAG Awards. My heart couldn’t deal with it. I don’t even know what I’m going to be like during the Academy Awards this year when they’re both nominated. I can’t wait to watch Leo win an Oscar. I am so confident it’s going to finally happen and I couldn’t be more excited.
So there you have it. That’s the first part of My Fangirl Story. February 28, 1998 changed my life. That’s the day I found my first fandom.
Thanks for reading! I’ll never let go.
– Justine Alyssa
Image Sources: Feature Image