Expressionisthmus: Life on a Thin Bridge

Portmanteaux Series: 1

The Portmanteaux Series is a short collection of personal writing to celebrate and encapsulate the memory of the beginning of my career writing online, a little over a decade ago I had the plan to start publishing my content online, which quickly became a blog about life. Every Friday I wrote about what I learned, what I didn’t learn and what I could teach to my peers.

I’ve since stopped writing in this manner, but given the circumstance I wanted to get one more good run in before I hang up the “lifestyle” writing for good. Lifeis+ 2023 is a celebration and it is also a funeral.

I’m glad you are in attendance.

I’m turning 30.

In the grand scheme of things, thirty is young. But I’m also dramatic, much to my wife’s chagrin. So bear with me while I write about the end of my life coming at the end of this month, and if you feel so inclined, entertain my drama as I recount the path I’ve taken to get here in a few short passages while I mourn the death of my first youth.

When I was about three, our family dog who was (in dog years) about a hundred years older than me was taking a nap underneath our office desk and I crawled down to play with him. Instead, I startled him and he woke up a little blind and a little deaf and bit this stranger who trapped him. After my stitches, I grew up and now I own two of my own who are (in dog years) just a little younger than I am and they are sleeping peacefully beneath my office desk, happy to be here while I write these words.

When I was about six, I went to the bathroom for a little time to myself, and ended up falling asleep on the toilet for long enough my mom grew worried What she found when she checked on me, was a young man who had a lot on his tiny plate sleeping on the porcelain. She took a photo, and showed it to everyone she could. After my legs regained their feeling, I grew up and my mom took another photo of me, asleep on their couch for Christmas two years ago after the presents had been opened with my wife in my arms, just as busy as ever.

When I was about eleven, my best friend got a really cool grey sweater with a silver phoenix on it that everyone loved. The new girl in class, a blonde we both wanted to pay attention to us ended up giving him more and we got into a fight. Well, it wasn’t a fight. We said some words to one another and when he tried to walk away I jumped on his back like I thought I was King Kong and he was the Empire State and brought him down onto a patch of rocks that cut up my knees, then he started fighting back. He won. After the scabs healed up, I grew up and attended his wedding where we danced and drank and celebrated his marriage to a woman who did not entice us to fight one another. (But probably would have liked his sweater from sixth grade.)

When I was about thirteen, I was dancing in the living room with my friends and in an attempt to dazzle them with my dance moves I jumped from the top step of their landing and kicked in the air to land on my knee, shattering it into tatters. It swelled to the size of a small watermelon before I told my parents what happened. After the surgery, I grew up and I don’t jump much, anymore, but I still like to dazzle my friends with showy moves, most often at weddings with my wife.

When I was about fifteen, I went on a four A.M. walk with my friend’s girlfriend because she and I both agreed we needed to exercise more. On that walk, she confessed to me that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with my friend and I told her I didn’t think that was a good idea, that we were going to start a band and we wouldn’t be home enough to have a life with, among other, crueler things. They were married a few years later and I stood at their side during the ceremony. After they had their first child, I grew up and even though we don’t talk anymore, I still think about them when I pick up my guitar.

When I was about seventeen, my friends and I went to San Fransisco with our school choir for a competition and on the first day we all bought matching yellow V-necks and ukuleles and sang songs in the hotel hallway for the girls. We won the competition that weekend, too. After I had to throw away my ukulele to have enough room in my bag for the flight home, I grew up and have regained my voice enough from years of smoking to sing again without being winded. The V-neck doesn’t fit though, I stopped takin 4 A.M. walks.

When I was about twenty, I poured Cherry Pepsi into a red solo cup of Blueberry Ciroc which my friend lovingly dubbed “Ciroc & Roll” and hammered down so much with him that I passed out in the host’s bedroom at the foot of the bed while another party goer got lucky two feet from my head on top of the bed. After I vomited the next morning “hangover cure” across my friend’s driveway, I grew up and see him every day at our office job where we still get to remember the old days.

When I was about twenty two, the restaurant I’d worked in for four years closed its doors. We rummaged through all of the tools we used every day, and took them for safe keeping in our own houses. All of us moved on after one last party in the building and it was taken over by another group to become an Italian place, which I started at to continue the legacy. There, I met my wife just before the restaurant closed. After the haunted building was picked clean and reopened as a seafood joint, I grew up and find the same joy I used to find in the kitchen of that building, in my own kitchen, cooking for her.

When I was about twenty four, I was scared I wouldn’t live past thirty. In order to combat that fear I stayed up late and had frequent dinners at a local casino with my best friend, into the late hours of the morning we talked about life and love and our relationships. It didn’t stop until I moved out of my home town. When we finished unpacking, I grew up and realized thirty is barely the beginning, still. I go to bed much earlier now, though.

When I was about twenty nine, I sat in bed with my wife and confessed I was suffering with depression. That I had been considering suicide. I wasn’t planning, but I was wondering. What it would be like if I weren’t around anymore. How much easier life would be for me if I wasn’t around. A few days later, I confessed the same thing to some friends, and I decided I would write about it. I did, and the release of those pent up feelings began the journey to healing. After I accepted that I wasn’t going to make it out without some kind of therapy, I grew up and started doing the work to make myself better. To heal.

I still am.

It takes a lot of work going from bad to good, and it’s not as simple as moving in a straight line. It’s the opposite, in fact, but it is a thin bridge, I think. The path toward healing and self betterment, despite how much I thought I knew about it, is not as simple as a few kind words about yourself and taking a brisk walk every day. It is those things, but no part of the process should be discounted. 

We are all souls moving from one little place to another little place and the grand lesson of life is not in our accomplishment of those tasks, but in our enjoyment of life along the way.

Life will never be perfect, and it will never be easy. Hell, I’m turning thirty in thirty days. I’m basically ready to be put in a home, but dammit if I didn’t enjoy getting here. For all the good and the bad I’ve seen, I’m only getting started.

The world is as big as it is small, and it’s all about how you can mange the waves.

Portmanteaux Part Two comes out tomorrow morning:

Sentimentalkative: Orating Sorrow

Thank you for participating once more in the Lifeis+ celebration. I’ve got a lot to celebrate this time around so you’ll be hearing from me often. If you’d like to read more, you can check out me current fiction project Sisters of Westwinter below!

More from Me:

SOW: Chapter Five, Part Five: A Single Spark

The Nail Ward, as they called it, was as miserable as it looked from the outside. The thousands of needles covering the floor and walls made it impossible to relax, and sleep was terribly out of the question. So Kerrick stood in the corner waiting, patiently, for the sunrise.

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