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  • Madeline Topf

I feel old.

In the morning, I notice lines on my face. Some days, my eyes don't de-puff until 3pm. My hobbies include meditation and macrame weaving and tennis. This past year has felt like ten. My legs don't fit on the sled.

The sledding area in my hometown is a frisbee golf course in the spring and summer. Yesterday, it was packed with children, children who will slide face first or down a ramp, or push each other. Meanwhile, all I could think about was my fear. I was afraid I would break my leg or my arm or hit my head. Was it better to cross one's legs on the sled, or hold them out straight? My legs didn't fit crossed.

All year I have been afraid, of getting sick or getting someone else sick. I have been afraid to go to the store or visit my parents or to hang out with my best friend. I am afraid of gaining weight. I have been afraid of what my idle mind would dream up in dull moments, I am afraid of aging and panic attacks, I am afraid that I can't fall asleep.

This year I confronted many of these fears because they happened anyway, whether I worried or didn't, and I am still here. I gained five or ten pounds. Some nights I don't fall asleep until 4am and some days I don't leave the house. I didn't get anyone sick though, that I know of, and haven't gotten sick myself. I have confronted my anxiety and taken steps to deal with it. I didn't break anything when I went sledding.

When I was a kid, I loved sledding. I loved the adrenaline rush of speeding down a hill. And I did it quite safely, the only blood being from biting my lip too hard going over a homemade ramp one time. I wasn't afraid then. I'm not sure that being an adult makes me anything but more cautious, more worried. Perhaps it allows me to think ahead, for better or worse. To plan. To be afraid in order to protect myself somehow, trying desperately to run from the feeling of not knowing what is going to happen next. At what cost?

I don't like sledding anymore. I'm too old.

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