I was 15 years old when Titanic was first released in Dec. 1997. I was enthralled not only by the magic of the movie but by my first love sitting next to me in the theater. At that time, my high school sweetheart was the king of my world.
In my mind, he was Jack — a handsome, young, intelligent, and quick-witted bad boy with body piercings that any parent of a teenage girl would cringe over. I was Rose — the smart, curly-haired, slightly feminist girl from private school. We didn’t have a lot in common, except for two open hearts and passionate spirits. That was all we needed.
We met while working at my family’s Italian restaurant. He walked into the kitchen while I was washing dishes and caught me singing Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me.” I was mortified. “Don’t apologize,” he told me. “I kinda like it.” His strong arms leaned over me to help me lift a case of glasses. Instantly, I loved him and we were a team.
He quickly became my best friend and confidante. Like Jack and Rose, we laughed, we cried and we had our fair share of fights. I was convinced we’d be those high school sweethearts who stayed together forever and I’d tell our love story to our children one day. Together, I thought we were unsinkable.
Eventually, our relationship hit an iceberg, as young love often does, and he lost the sparkle in his eyes when he looked at me. Even though I knew that the Titanic would sink, I still wanted Jack and Rose to live happily ever after — just like I wanted my relationship to survive. But the tighter I held on, the more he pulled away until finally, he was gone.
I went away to New York City for college, a part of me still hoping he’d follow me. When he called me freshman year, it was to tell me he had a new girlfriend — and that she was pregnant with his child. At that moment, our relationship finally sunk to the bottom of the ocean and I knew that our story had come to an end.
“Well, at least it’s not you pregnant,” everyone told me, “You have your whole life ahead of you.” But those words didn’t comfort me. If a woman’s heart is full of many secrets, mine was that I wished it had been me.
Fifteen years later, though I’ve had other great loves since my first, I am still single and searching for a happy ending.
It comforts me to know that even though Rose lost Jack, she still goes on to live a long, happy life filled with love, a husband, and children.
As my heart will go on, I have faith that I will too. Still, the journey can get lonely and at times, I forget what it feels like to have someone by my side sailing through life’s rocky waters, promising me, “You jump, I jump, right?”
Titanic will always remind me of the most important lesson I learned from my high school sweetheart: that love exists, that it’s real, and that it’s worth the risk of going down fighting on a sinking ship. After all, isn’t this the real reason the world will flock to see Titanic again? It’s what we all want; a love that will never let go.
Diana Marie Collins is a lawyer, writer, food blogger, and educator. Follow her on Twitter for more.