I made a terrible mistake a couple of weeks ago, one from which I am still trying to recover.

It started with a phone in the bathroom and a photo. With me so far? Good.

I mean, everyone does it right? Take photos of themselves in the bathroom? Ah, I should probably explain just a bit more. I was taking a photo of what has become the bane of my existence – the ever-growing bald spots on top of my head.

As a teenager – specifically from sophomore year on through my early 30s – I shaved my head. I was cursed with the curliest of hair as a kid, which only grew into a thick mess as I got older. I experimented with different types of hair products – mousse, gel, hair spray and, yes, even hair grease – and styles.

None of them ever really worked and each was as uncomfortable as the next. Then, during my sophomore year, a wonderful thing happened – as my stepdad at the time was cutting my hair, the clip he was using fell off, leaving a major bald spot at the back of my head. I opted to just have him shave it all off.

It was glorious, and I stuck with it for more than a decade. But I used to joke as I got older that when and if I ever decided to grow out my hair, I would start going bald.

The universe has a sense of humor all its own, it seems.

When I finally decided to grow out my hair a few years ago, as well as my beard, I had to familiarize myself with the styles of cuts and even which direction to brush my hair. No doubt there are men reading this and shaking their heads at a grown man in his 30s having to learn about something so basic, but there you go. Haircuts for us were done mostly at home as best as my mom could manage, or at a cosmetology school in Corpus Christi where students did haircuts for free.

But back to the photo in the bathroom. I wanted to see just how bad the damage was from Father Time and was speechless when I saw a large patch filled with strands of thinning hair. My scalp gleamed underneath. “What the hell happened?” I asked myself.

But of course I had already answered my own question – time.

The years have passed, and I am slowly approaching my 40s. I’m no longer the intentionally bald young man I’ve seen myself as for the longest time, but a balding older man who is in the midst of another of life’s transitions.

The mistake that I’m having trouble recovering from has to do with the photo itself. I’ve been monitoring my receding hairline for years, unable to accept just what is happening. The photo was undeniable proof, as crazy as it sounds, that I’m not a young man anymore. 

It made me reflect on a few things. One is that I am now the same age as some of my aunts and uncles were when I used to spend the night at their houses as a child. An aunt and uncle are slowly creeping toward the age that my grandmother was when she passed away on my birthday back in 2002.

My mother is in her mid-50s, health issues starting to pop up, no doubt the result of the hard life she lived to raise me and my three siblings. Younger cousins I remember as babies are now young adults just now venturing out on their own paths.

I think it was the sudden realization of it all that hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve had gray hair since I was 12 years old, and there’s a lot more of it now on my scalp, but balding is a whole other story.

The question I have to ask myself now is how long do I dwell on it before I just shave my head and get on with my life. What a tangled mess I’ve gotten myself into.

Tim Acosta is the publisher of The Kingsville Record. He can be reached at editor@kingsvillerecord.com.

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