100 years ago today.
my mom is a bit of a ‘swami’, as in, sort of intuitive, clairvoyant, and anything along those lines. which means that i grew up in a sort of unorthodox, spiritually-aware household. throw in a firm catholic foundation for good measure, well, at least until my parents had us all storm out of a mothers day sermon where the doddering old priest condemned all single mothers to hell.
i guess like a good baker, you temper life with a bit of this and a bit of that. i sort of believe in everything, and have had very little reason to abandon any of my hodgepodge potpourri spiritual basket.
so, here we are, a childhood where i would ‘send my mom a message’ while she shopped at the jewel, which, robot-like, found her inexplicably pushing her cart over to the candy aisle (trust me, a rare indulgence in those days), reaching for a bag of chocolate covered raisons.
as the bags were unpacked, to her sounding cry of, “au secour!”, sure enough, out came a bag of just what i had “asked” her to buy for me.
winding through life, i’ve had many reasons to keep one foot on either side of the world: the real, human, blood-forging physical world, and that filmy, floaty unseen bit that i know is out there.
i spent decades firmly believing i died in the titanic. as a little girl, i was unable to ever look at photos of sinking ships. our summers spent on the idyllic st. lawrence seaway were partially spent in little terror as huge freighters, proudly flying flags from all over the world, lurched by. no, i’m no fan of those big creatures that bellow smoke and threaten to leak and plummet to the depths of the unknown seas and deep, chilly rivers.
so, when that james cameron man came out with his ‘kind of the world’ film starring that boyish leo (i’m not a fan) and that darling kate (where do i get her autograph?), i had absolutely no intention of seeing it.
who cares if it costs 100 million dollars to make and was sure to be an oscar favorite? what on earth would convince me to sit in bloody holy terror for a few hours, just to relive my earlier doom?
as i find a challenge a worthy adversary, and am trying my best to not be a big old chicken, i was eventually peer-pressured into seeing the movie. the only agreement i made to myself, as i chomped soothingly on popcorn, was that now, as a mother of three children, i indeed was brave and would face my fears head on. heart thumping, romance established, that silly plot that killed time as we all enjoyed the sumptuous hug of that beautifully appointed ship, i waited for the final night and that damn iceberg to thrust itself into the peaceful gaiety.
i kept my eyes open the entire time.
years later, on a trip to nyc with my daughters, we followed my tradition of staying always at a different part of the city. finding a macabre pull towards this most scary subject, i booked a ‘captain’s room’ at “the jane hotel”….face my fears once again!
this cool hotel, renovated and decorated in a sea-faring, circa 1912 style, was originally built as a small-roomed berth sort of hotel to accommodate the crew members of in and outgoing behemoth vessels of the atlantic. ahoy matey and all that, the bell caps wore those darling “telegram”-delivering lad looking vestments and jaunty round caps; the room keys were affixed to large brass fobs and tucked into those old wooden cubby cabinets; the decor of our room was early 20th century; the view was the hudson river and the proud, welcoming statue of liberty.
but what really pulled me into choosing this hotel over all others?
it was the hotel where the survivors of the titanic were brought to stay during their arrival in new york, and where they stayed during the investigation. on top of that, a memorial service for all those lost was held in the hotel ballroom.
who could resist this chilling, historical and spooky vignette?
sure enough, it was fabulous, and sadly, my gals and i weren’t visited by any ghostly apparitions. call it a quirky part of my unconventional childhood, but i was really hoping, though biting my nails in apprehension, to see or at least feel, something otherworldly during out stay. call me crazy but i do believe in all of that stuff.
no such luck.
but, it did churn up a wonderful visit that paid homage, in some small way, to that terrible, horrible disaster. as a member of the club of the living and a big, big fan of history, i savored the six-degrees of separation factor of our time at “the jane”.
so, here we are, 100 years later. i’m still afraid of ocean liners, but as a designer and illustrator, i can’t get enough of their style, engineering and formidable existence. today is a day to take a moment to pause for all who suffered from this great and horrific tragedy and cherish the breath that comes still to us, here and now. and if any of the titanic starring cast is floating around, either in england, over that dreaded part of the ocean, or paranormally sipping a glass of port at “the jane”, then, here’s to you.