It was a cold Monday evening where the rain splattered mud onto the footpath and Sydney typically could have been mistaken to be in the depths of Winter rather than early Autumn. I had oddly spent the previous hour in the park, following orders from a gym instuctor to do push ups closer into the mud, and as I walked down the street I checked to make sure traces of dirt had been brushed off my hands. I figured in any case my resulting disheveled appearance would likely help me fit into the crowd I was soon joining.
I climbed up the stairs above the brightly lit convenience store under the watchful eye of my friend who’d convinced me to swallow my pride and come along, paid my five dollar entry free, put my name down on the reading list and entered the living room of a share house that had been converted into a heavenly makeshift theatre.
A large coffee table served as the stage with a ruby velvet pre-loved chair placed upon it acting as the throne, and red blooded material draping the windows reminiscent of grander curtains on grander stages. Below the stage, early twenty bohemians crossed their legs in boots on the floor, enthusiastically swinging back warmed red wine from their plastic cups and giggling over private banter, eying one another with glee from under their long straight black fringes. I moved straight to the small bar at the back and grabbed my own glass of red to cradle and hopefully calm my nerves.
After half an hour or so allowing this exuberant mood to reach a peak, several people took turns climbing the throne, grabbing the microphone and twisting clever witty tales of dinner parties with agendas, fortuitous meetings with strangers at bus stops and morally ambiguous and sexually tense detective stories. The crowd whooped and gasped as the story tellers brought their stories to life with sound effects, songs and aluminium foiled props that didn’t quite want to stand up straight.
And then my name was called out. I walked between the bodies trying hard not to step on any fingers or toes now that the red wine had quickly affected my relationship with gravity. I fumbled with the microphone, and gently warned the fifty faces now peering straight at my eyes that I would be lowering the tone somewhat with my ‘vertical short story.’ I told them it was my first time there and that I had somewhat brazenly decided to jump in the deep end and do a reading. The young word lovers clapped and cheered in support and together we threw our fists in the air like I was a boxer having just won my first match. Maybe if I acted like I winner I’d feel less ludicrous about hanging my heart out on this stage like it were a clothes line.
I then slowly read out Almost something worth holding to. I tried a few times to peer up at the crowd, but soon lost myself in the moment and mood the words described and caught up in the sounds they made when I spoke out loud. I’d never spoken any of my pieces out loud before.
And then it was over, I stumbled back through the crowd to my chair at the back of the room, and a friend mouthed one hopeful word back to me that made me feel relieved gorgeous.
I didn’t speak to anyone afterward and walked home alone in the rain, but inside I could feel my heart beating to a wordless syncopated tune that made me feel a little giddy.
And next stop on the word journey is Melbourne writers meet.
Some links worth visiting -