What Happened to Me?

I suppose it happens to all of us who wake up one day, look in the mirror, and notice gray hairs. Well, some gray hairs. Well, more gray hairs.

And already I’m nervous about writing the phrase “all of us.” Who am I to know what has happened to you? Or the 8 billion others on this planet. Or the countless others who were once alive and are now dead. At least in the ways they used to be alive. I don’t think anything goes away forever. But that’s just me. And think of all the people who haven’t been born yet. Or all the people that were born as I was finishing this sentence. People are prone to procreation.

All of us? I barely understand what happens to me. Let alone all of us.

Anyway, I suppose it happens to all of us who wake up one day, look in the mirror, and see a person who doesn’t resemble the person we used to be. We ask this question:

What happened to me?


Pictures of me in 2023 don’t look like pictures of me in 2017. Or 2012. Or 2001. Or 1982. The version of me writing this sentence is different. This sentence too. Always changing.

This version of me has more wrinkles near his eyes. His forehead appears larger. His hair is thinner, grayer.

For most of my life people have commented how thick and lush my hair is.

“Your hair is thick and lush,” they’d say.

I’d glow.

“You’ll never go bald,” they’d say.

“Stop,” I’d say, not wanting them to stop.

“You look so young,” people told me all my life. “How old are you?”

“75,” I’d say, knowing I looked twelve.

I was carded well into my 30’s.

“You can’t be 21!”

I’d shrug.

The things people used to say to me aren’t said very much anymore. If at all.

I can’t be alone in trying to figure out how this different, older version of me should relate to others. The things that used to be part of my identity have shifted as my face has shifted. As my hair has grayed. As my winkles have wrinkled. As I’ve aged.

This isn’t rocket science. People get older. The body moves slower. I can’t drive to the hoop like I could before. Man, I was fast. I missed nearly every layup I put up, but I usually got there before my defender. I haven’t played basketball in years. A real game, anyway, I shoot with the boys once in awhile.

I don’t know. I’m not lamenting but I’m sort of lamenting. I’m not grieving but I’m sort of grieving. And I’m really not old. 42 is young. I just feel old lately. All worked up about a blood pressure pill. Feeling more tired than ever. This year took it out of me. As a man fueled by enormous chutzpah for years, this year has forced something of a change. Or is forcing it. As I write this sentence. I’m trying to catch my breath. Picture a wheezing Sam, wheezing his way towards this period.


I’m just a different me now. Living in Iowa City. Teaching at The University of Iowa. So much has changed in the last year. My body wears that change. Wears it well? I don’t know. I still think I’m handsome as all get out. Think George Clooney, only more muscular. Delicious is the word I’d use. But delicious in a different sort of way. Aged wine?

And that, my friends, is one of the grossest paragraph I’ve written in these blog entries. So many blog entries. I just keep at it. More and more words. I like getting lost in words. I’ll be able to keep doing that well into old age. Throwing words at pages. They may start making less sense, but I don’t care. Maybe they’ll make more sense. More and more wisdom that is borne of so many gray hairs, so many wrinkles, so many versions of myself, walking with me into eternity, because I don’t think things ever end. They just keep going. And so do I.

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