Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Thousand Words - My DMV Photo

I stare at the image on the driver's license. It looks just like me, except older. I take the former license out of my wallet and compare one photo against the other. The inescapable conclusion is that the score is mother nature (or father time) one, me zero.

It is strange, living with me every day as I must, I can't see myself age. There is not a line I spot today that was not there yesterday, not a prominent sag in the skin around my neck that suddenly makes a 14 1/2 collar impossible to close without surgical intervention.

Apart from those years when I was able to pluck multiple dying hair follicles out of my head with the greatest of ease, there have been no neon signs warning me not to look too closely at what was transpiring.

But there it is, this person definitely bordering on old, his face seeming much wider than a few years earlier, the entire image less robust. How is it that I hadn't noticed?

It doesn't help that I have Dorian Gray lying next to me in bed every day. Married to me over 40 years, my wife has somehow, despite the daily hardship of cleaning up the mess that is her husband, somehow avoided virtually all signs of growing older.

She is that person in your high school class you immediately recognize at the 50th reunion. I am the one you have to, not too impolitely, sneak a peek at the stuck on nametag, and still can't possibly imagine what this fellow looked like as your classmate.

It is not vanity so much as wonder at the mystery of time. What was going on inside of me that I could not feel? What just occurred that sent a signal to my head that it was now not going to hear that noise as clearly as a minute earlier, not see that road sign as well as night as it did last evening? Each change too subtle for me to comprehend. And yet, here I am.

Even in the moments I took to write this piece I am certain my body has not been at rest, something has changed, somewhere, somehow. I am not the same as I was a half hour ago, a half minute ago, a half second ago.

It is hard to comprehend the magnitude of one photo taken by a woman at the DMV, among the hundreds she takes in a day, the thousands every month.

She is, in the most graphic way, chronicling the passage of time and its inevitable impact on all who are told to stare straight ahead at the camera. And causing me, and I would suppose countless others, to look instead directly in our rear view mirrors.


Anonymous said...

Priceless and so true. Perhaps that is why the woman at the DMV always says "don't smile" just as she takes the photo.--RE

Anonymous said...

Incredibly well said...


Anonymous said...

Getting old is,indeed,not for sissies.


Anonymous said...

I think their cameras and lighting are awful! It's not us.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Happens to us all. Where do the years go? Luckily the ravages of time still leave us smiling!


Anonymous said...

You are being much too hard on yourself.

You really don't look that much older
Usually your eyes get worse as you get older so you do not notice
Perhaps the fact that you are going to be a grandparent is having an effect on your judgement
Thank god you still are getting new dmv pictures- when you get too old to drive, you will appreciate the picture more.
And then one day...
David B