“Rusticles” – By Allison Contreras

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Though I’m well aware that the sinking of the Titanic was an incredible tragedy,  I was pleasantly surprised at how emotionally engaged I was while touring Titanic Belfast. An array of emotions took center stage today as I made my way through exhibit after exhibit, taking turns feeling equally as intrigued as I was devastated.

I walked in with the mindset that I wouldn’t see anything that I didn’t already have a general basis of. Though most information was familiar, a large part of me remained genuinely interested and by that I was delighted. After exploring the museum with an open mind and a heavy heart, I was completely captivated by one section of the exhibit, for it really challenged my perspective on the entire incident.

This exhibit showcased the Titanic in it’s sunken state, screening videos and pictures of the 1985 underwater exploration conducted by marine archaeologist Robert Ballard. A video played on a large screen, projecting footage of the wreck. The footage was absolutely chilling and left me in a state of total awe. The ship was covered in icicle-like formations of rust, or as Ballard deemed them, “rusticles.” A blanket of rust and seaweed covered whatever was left of the ships remains and a seemingly endless trail of debris surrounded the wreck. It was then that I was hit with the true reality of how deep this tragedy really was.

After being shown deteriorated bathtubs, sinks, hairbrushes, shoes, glasses, suitcases, etc., I felt an enormous pit in my stomach. Real people, once alive and well, with real family and real friends, once used these things that are now rotting at unfathomable depths. Seeing the debris that once belonged to human beings really shook me to my core. A part of somebody’s life, regardless if it’s as small as a hairbrush, still lies at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean.

I was thrown into the reality that it’s so easy to forget the true extent of the tragedy that occurred April 14th, 1912. Though it happened so long ago, the Titanic is still here. Parts of the lives that were lost are still physically apart of our planet and that acts as a reminder to never forget that every life lost is a life worth remembering.

I began the tour with a “know-all” mindset, yet found myself leaving with a smack in the face. I’m glad that I left with an experience I didn’t expect. Titanic Belfast, you really did something to me. Thank you.

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