I used to be quite fearless.
I learned to swim very early and couldn't understand why my mom had this stupid rule about not swimming alone in the pool at our trailer park when I was 5 years old. I couldn't help it if none of the BORING grown-ups around there wanted to swim at 7:00 AM. And why did she have them rat me out EVERY SINGLE TIME?
When I was 10 I had one of those cool bicycles that were popular at the time, with the high-rise handlebars and a "banana" seat. Just flying down the road wasn't enough for me. No, I had to stand on the seat with one foot and put the other foot on the handlebars. Only one time I got it backward and put my weight on the handlebars first, and a pretty nasty crash ensued. I'm positive it didn't deter me, though.
I climbed trees. I climbed buildings. There was a Boy Scout hut across the street from where we lived once, and it had a marvelous rock chimney that was better than a ladder. I could easily scale that chimney and sit on the roof of the building, which was where I was happier than anywhere else. One time I was sitting up there alone when two older boys climbed the chimney too. I didn't know them, but apparently they were fine-tuning their bullying skills. They perched themselves on either side of the chimney, the only way down, and said something about "that little girl." So I just calmly walked to the edge of the roof, jumped off, and ran home.
Another bullying episode was in the swimming pool at the trailer park. I was sitting in an inflated inner tube in the pool when this particularly mean boy decided he wanted it. He proceeded to come over and turn the tube over, with me clinging to it. I refused to let go, even underwater. He flipped it back upright; I was still hanging on. He turned it over again; I held on tight. No matter how long he left me underwater, I still held on to that tube. I think he finally got disgusted and gave up.
Of course then there was the period of my life when I jumped out of airplanes. Sixty-six times I jumped out of airplanes. Some were good jumps; many were not. I finally decided that if I couldn't be good at skydiving, perhaps I should just give it up while the odds weren't stacked COMPLETELY against me.
Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my fearlessness. Today, in celebration of my first day of Spring Break and a triumphant return from a weekend of bicycle riding, Hubby decided we should clean out the gutters. Our house is a split-level, which means that parts of it are really, really tall. We have a really, really tall ladder to reach the gutters on those parts.
I don't like the idea of Hubby on a ladder, not since he fell off one in 2001 while cleaning the gutters at his mother's house. I still have nightmares of that fall, especially since I really should have been holding the ladder. He might bear some responsibility in that he was A) wearing flipflops on a ladder; and B) coming down backward.
But the only other option besides Hubby getting on the ladder is for ME to get up there. And I bravely did so. Briefly. I climbed to the top and cleaned some of the debris out of the gutters, but Hubby grew impatient with my snail's pace and took my spot. I even climbed on top of the house to walk to the other side and clean those gutters, but I froze. Being on top of the house used to be my favorite thing in the world. What has happened to me? I'm sure it could have something to do with the fact that we now have a metal roof that is covered in pollen. I was never afraid of sliding off the shingles, but that metal roof is quite literally a slippery slope. And a slopery slip.
While I was on top of the house, our neighbor saw me, and he yelled over here. "Tell your husband I'm going to kick his ass!" That was rather touching and a little bit comical, since this neighbor is a bit ..... diminutive. I'd buy tickets to watch him try to beat Hubby's anything.
I'm not at all bothered by the fact that Hubby had to wind up doing all the cleaning himself. I don't think he blinks an eye when I do all of the cooking, dish-washing, laundry, and minimal housekeeping that gets done around here. I did hold the ladder this time, though, while he threw crap from the gutters on my head. And I made sure he had on sensible shoes.
It just bothers me that I'm not fearless anymore.