I am incredibly afraid of boats (among many other things), and right now – at this very moment – four of my closest friends are on a sailboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They are traveling (by themselves – no other captain or crew) from California to the South Pacific. And two of them are not even old enough to vote. In fact, they are not even teenagers yet. Those girls are my heroes.
Last spring, I spent a week on the sailboat with the girls and their parents, and I felt incredibly brave just for negotiating the steps between the dock and the boat. I sat in the corner and clutched the handrail, reminding myself that I was wearing a life jacket. The girls, who were nine and eleven years old at the time, helped steer and jibe, and lifted bumpers that weighed more than they did. They jumped off the boat to the dock, and never looked down, and never cried out for fear of falling in the water. They called to me and said, “You can do it, Courtney!” And they held my hands while I climbed down oh so carefully.
I am in awe of how brave and capable they are. But it is more than that. They are just two of the greatest people I’ve ever known. They are beautiful and polite and kind. When I’m around them, I find myself saying “please” and “thank you” more, because I want to be as good as they are. They are hysterically funny, and they inspire me to write better. I’ve even used things they’ve said in my books. Their delight for the world is infectious, so when I am hanging onto the handrail for dear life, and one of them shouts, “Hey look, there’s a dolphin!” I can loosen my grip for just a second and start grinning and waving with them.
Before they left for the South Pacific, I asked the older one if she was scared about the trip, and she said she was, a little. “But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she reminded me. Her voice didn’t waver. She and her sister make me want to be brave. They make me want to be better. They are everything I want to be when I grow up.
Ahoy, there, Court! You may not be a sailor, but your book will certainly sail off the shelves come October. And readers won't even need these: