The next version

Sixty years ago, in the fall of 1963, I made my first appearance in a newspaper, a sallow-faced 10-year-old who looked like a zombie.

I remember the names of my classmates, I remember their faces, I wonder where they are today, I wonder how the past six decades have treated them.

It was an early version of me. In a few months, in the middle of the school year, we would move to a different town and everything would be different. Everything had already changed; a few months earlier I had spent 12 cents on a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #4 and comic books transformed from a summer vacation distraction into a monthly obsession.

I’ve been listening to Bob Goff’s “Dream Big” podcast. In the episode I listened to yesterday, he asked his guest what he thought “the next version of himself” would be like. I’ve been asking that question myself lately.

“We each live different lives within the one we live,” a former wife said once. When I turned that statement into a song, she didn’t remember she was the one who gave me that line. But it’s true; the zombie in this picture was nearing the end of that particular life, the Little Falls life, and the Chester life was looming ahead. 

I’m starting a new life, a life where I live alone with my dogs and cat in this house. It’s been 30 years since the last time there was a version of me who lived alone. Looking for something else as I started to organize this next version Thursday, I found a stash of old photographs and the yellowed Passaic Herald-News clipping tucked between them, and started thinking of parallels and versions of me and different lives.

The last me who lived alone spent a lot of time writing and composing. In those late 1980s I wrote a bunch of songs, some of them pretty good if I say so myself, wrote a couple of novels, and created a superhero named Myke Phoenix. One of the novels was The Imaginary Bomb; the other, never mind. When publishing books stopped being cost-prohibitive, I sent the I-Bomb and Myke out into the world in 2008, and that was the beginning of the public author version of me, as opposed to the author wannabe version. I’d like this version to be as prolific as the last live-alone version. Time will tell, of course.

Red poured herself into her gardens every spring and summer after she retired. “I don’t know how many gardens I have left,” she would say. “I’m going to enjoy them while I can.” She had fewer than we knew.

I don’t know how many versions of me I have left. I’m going to enjoy them while I can.

2 thoughts on “The next version

  1. One of my favorite version of you was the Door County Advocate era (including you and Red house and dream building). You will never be alone so long as Red lives in your memory. Keep her close.

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