Aboard the RMS Titanic
I’ve been fangirling over things my whole life—I just didn’t have a term for it until my mid-20s. Before that, my peers would wrinkle their noses and call me obsessed. I hated that word because it felt so negative, but I can embrace fangirl.
In elementary school, I loved “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” I rounded up kids on the playground and distributed homemade communicators—until people got so upset that there weren’t enough to go around that they told a teacher, and I was forced to put them away. Then there was my love affair with the Oregon Trail, about which I wrote my first fanfic. Aptly titled “The Merciless Trail,” the story chronicled the brutal journey of five girls, all named Mercy (I-V). In my defense, I had just learned roman numerals.
“Star Wars” was the first fandom that I really got to share with another person. My other homeschooled friend Jasmine and I would walk around antique stores with our moms and pretend that we were being chased by imperials, trying to sneak off and rendezvous with Han Solo. I was Princess Leia; my friend was an unnamed handmaiden. Hey, I didn’t make the rules.
But it wasn’t until I was a teenager, and the internet became more commonplace, that I found my first real community fandom. It was 1999, and I was completely in love with all things “Titanic.” I had a total crush on Billy Zane, not Leonardo DiCaprio, who I thought was gross. But because the movie was so finite, I needed more Titanic-themed things to keep my interest fed. I found this PC game called “Titanic: Adventure out of Time.” The premise is that you are a British secret agent who failed a mission aboard the Titanic. You’re sent back in time to the night of the sinking with another chance to make things right. Should you succeed, well, you don’t save the ship, but you can prevent both world wars.
Not only was the game amazing because of how immersive it felt, but it was also my first experience with endings that could change based on my actions. I loved the game, and I looked it up online, where, to my surprise, I found a community of people who also loved the game.
At that time in my life, I was very lonely. We had just moved across the country, and I was an awkward middle-schooler. But as Caledon Hockley on the Cyberflix message boards, I felt camaraderie. No one thought I was weird for my interests because they shared them too. I didn’t have as much trouble speaking up behind a screen, and it was a place where I could socialize and forget about what was going on in real life.
But within a handful of months, CyberFlix went out of business and shortly thereafter, the message boards were gone. I bounced around looking for other Titanic message boards, but it wasn’t the same.
I’ve fangirled my way through many things since then, and I don’t even remember other screen names from those message boards. But the positive experience has stayed with me and made me less afraid to jump into other communities after that. I’ve made some lifelong friends from other fandoms, and those experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world.