The RMS Titanic.
White Star Line, sailed from Southhamton, UK on the 10th of April, 1912 with 2,224 souls aboard.
At 11:40 pm during the evening of April 14th, she struck an iceberg and by 2:20 am; under two hours later; she sank resulting in the deaths of over 1500 people.
I remember these facts because from early childhood, almost lost to memory as to how early it truly was, I've always had a pit in my stomach regarding Titanic and everything surrounding it. However, I can't seem to figure out why.
Remember the 1980 film "Raising the Titanic"? Boy, I do. Sure, everyone and their mother has seen the James Cameron film by now and any spate of the blizzard of film/documentaries regarding it. Read any numbers of books or websites dedicated to it. Had nightmares about it or convinced themselves that they had a former life as a cabin steward on it or something.
I can't claim much of that. Sure, I've been fascinated by it. I don't know exactly why. I find that the dedication of certain members of the crew is imminently laudable and the behavior of the passengers is somewhat odd in some cases...but I can't point to anything that I feel links me to it like I can most things I find so interesting.
I followed the Ballard trek to find her. Watched the special regarding the same. I had the visceral reaction when I saw the bow of the great ship breach from the shadows of the deep in that passing video shot that still makes my blood run cold.
But why does it make my blood run cold at all? I mean, it occurred 62 years before I was born. Nobody in my family was touched by it, directly. Yet, I remember seeing the Clive Cussler-inspired film mentioned above when it was first broadcast. I remember the feeling I had when they actually raised the thing and she broke the surface (obviously impossible but we didn't know she'd broken in half back in those days) and it made me want to crawl into a corner. I watched it again recently and I had the same reaction, utterly familiar and like nothing else I've ever felt before, in the interim, or since. I never get those "someone walking over my grave" sensations but the feeling I get seeing the great bow of the ship like a ghost reaching out of the screen towards you or aforementioned surfacing is as close as to what I've seen and heard described as that sensation as I've ever had.
She scares me. There is something that might be akin to looking into the eyes of death itself in what I feel when I consider the loss of life, the mix of that lost life, and the circumstances of it's loss. There is no building, no location, no incident, no subject matter nor any mythology that freezes my blood and drives me to, all at once, want to turn away as much as focus my gaze and attention on the spectacle and tragedy like that vessel and it's maiden voyage does. Frustratingly, I don't know why. Other things, far more personally involving and traumatic have occurred in my life, but this one thing has steadfastly held the same measure of grip and subdued terror and fascination for me as it ever has. It doesn't lessen. It never faded with time. Still...I don't know why.
If anyone has a suggestion as to why, I'm all up for hearing it out. One shouldn't be haunted by a simple entry of history far removed from one's self.