I’m going to butcher this, but there’s a scene from the movie Amélie that has stuck with me ever since I first saw it. A man is reading the newspaper out loud to one or two friends in the cafe where Amélie works. He comes across a piece of news, and it’s sort of a throwaway line, but it’s beautiful.
“Listen to this,” he begins (and remember, this is translated from French into American and then quoted — inexactly — by me a few years later). “A boy of six drove off in a pedal car one night. When the officers found the missing child, he explained he ‘wanted to see the stars.'”
I’ve never been able to let that image go.
There’s an innocence to this child’s bravery, and while fictional, it’s admirable. He wanted to see the stars. I never fathomed sneaking out of my house as a teenager, let alone driving off to the moon.
When I came across this Atlantic article about a 14-year-old girl on a journey to become the youngest person to sail the world alone, it was like I’d found the real life version of that fictional boy.
Her name is Laura Dekker. She spent 17 months at sea by herself, meeting up with filmmaker Jillian Schlesinger along the way. Together they created a documentary about a teenager who went against the norm and chased her watery version of the stars in a tiny, wanderlust-filled sailboat.
Schlesinger told The Atlantic, “I think anytime a young person is doing something so far outside the realm of what is considered normal and conventionally accepted, it ruffles a lot of feathers. Some people applaud and stand up for it, others call it insane and irresponsible.”
The Atlantic quoted Dekker at the start of the film: “Of course there are people who say you’re crazy, but it’s a dream. A great, great dream. I want to sail, I want to go around the world. I want to see all the places and not always the stupid same thing.”
Me too, girl. Me too.