I’ll be 23 in a month and 15 days.  No, I don’t think this is old, although I prefer even-number ages to odd-number ages so 23 may not get as much enthusiasm from me as 22.  For that matter, no number will probably get as much enthusiasm from me as 22 did… it is not only my favorite number, but it is also the age in which I got married to my best friend.  What could be better than that? 🙂

No, 23 is not old.  But it is older.  21 was two years ago.  18 was 5 years ago.  16; 7 years ago, and the big 1-0 was a whopping 13 years ago.  It doesn’t seem like that much time as passed.  I feel like the memories of my childhood are so vivid that they all could have happened yesterday.  However, I have been noticing how much more paranoid I get as I age.

13 years ago, I would do the most dangerous stunts on my bike and my roller blades.  My sisters and I had no problem testing our speed on wheels on the steepest driveways and the biggest hills of our neighborhoods, no matter how many battle scars we tattooed on our knees in the process.  I also had no problem eating cookie dough after the eggs had been put in.  If I was sick, I was sick till I got better.  I didn’t give a second thought to playing streets away from home, outside the view of my mother.  I played on wooden playgrounds and on metal playgrounds.  I didn’t have a care in the world as I tramped through our woods, exploring abandoned homes and climbing through brush and up tall trees in bare feet. Life happened.

Now, life happens differently.  I don’t do dangerous stunts on my bike.  When I ride it, I seem to be acutely aware of every bump and crack that might cause my bike to skid to its side and into the road.  If I get sick… well, I just wait to get better, but I do imagine all the accidents and illnesses that my body could encounter that might be detrimental or fatal.  I have to wonder how Mom let me go streets away when many mothers I know of now never let their children leave their sight (I still don’t like that, but I’m not a mom and who knows, the paranoia could build to that point by the time I have kids).  When I walk barefoot, I think of all the stupid stories people fill my head with about tapeworm and nasty diseases that could infect my feet.  I get nervous licking envelopes because someone told me it can have bug eggs on it.  Heights seem more treacherous and the woods seem like a place where dangerous people reside.  And just today, the inspiration for this blog, I was cooking chocolate chip cookies and wanted to eat some dough and the thought flashed through my head: but the eggs! The salmonella!

Good grief.  I am determined to battle this aging side effect.  We seem to LOVE sharing information, knowledge, and stories that increase our paranoia as we get older.  And one side of me wants to take it all in and run to my neighbor to make sure they’ve heard about it too.  But the other side of me wants to say, just stop.  I’ve eaten plenty of cookie dough without getting sick.  I’ve been barefoot countless times without getting so much more than a stubbed toe.  Any injuries I obtained through bike accidents healed.  And I LOVED playing in the woods, having a little freedom, playing and exploring.  And when I try to think of satisfying the paranoia… always wearing shoes, never riding my bike, living under constant supervision, not enjoying tastes or sights or smells just in case, and still convinced I’m going to catch some disease and die anyway… well, it just doesn’t sound like much fun.

So this afternoon I ate the cookie dough.  And it was ridiculously delightful.  🙂