Wanted Not wanting
It is ten years ago and I am making my way home on the number 57 West Maribyrnong tram. I am one of the lucky few who got on early enough to get a seat. There are bodies standing shoulder to shoulder. While sitting there someone slips a piece of scrap paper into my hand. I look up and see a beautiful woman for a split second before she gets off the tram. I look down and read the paper. It has a name and a number scribbled in black pen. I felt a tingle of something that I hadn’t felt in a while something like possability and excitement. What could this person want I wonder?
When I got to my share house in Kensington I called the number with nervous heart palpitations and sweaty palms. I really wanted this to be something good. It was. Claudia tells me she is a theatre maker from Columbia and is working on a play for her masters. She thinks that I am perfect for the role. Would I be willing to act in her play? I say yes of course. For the next few months I go to her place and we do activities and discuss the nature of childhood and the strange space you inhabit while there. Claudia confesses to me how nervous she was that day on the tram when she first saw me sitting there. ”I had been looking for someone who looked like they existed in both the childhood and adult worlds at the same time.” She explains. ”You looked perfectly and exactly how I wanted and all I had time to do was scribble my details and shyly hand them to you before getting off at my stop. I was so nervous you wouldn’t call.”
She is so warm and kind and over the weeks she mentions the place she and her boyfriend love to go camping in Columbia. ‘You must come one day.” She says and I agree.
The night of the play arrives. it takes place in a car port set up like a child’s bedroom and people are spilling out onto the street to watch the short play that involves me and an 8 year old girl throwing an inflated ball at each other as we tell each other ”I love you” in slowly rising voices. After the play and the party afterwards I never see her again. I lose her number I move across town. I want to stay in touch but her last name disappears from my memory. There is no social media. Life happens.
At that point in my life I was in my first sexual relationship and feeling empty and sad. Romantic love was not filling out all my dark spaces with light like it was meant to. Like all the books and movies and media i consumed at that time seem to say it would. The sadness was still there snuggled in deep and leaving me unable to get up from the couch some days.
The night of the play was a warm one. It was nearly the end for my love and I. It wasn’t expressed explicitly that I wanted them to come see me perform. I just knew that if they didn’t come I would be angry.
They do come and it is not until its over that they approach me with a gift ”for being brave.” It is Bikini Kill’s Pussy Whipped on vinyl. The very album that was playing when we were in Missing Link Records a few weeks ago. The music was blaring as i walked in and my face lit up at the sound of Kathleen Hannah singing Rebel Girl. I went to the counter to ask who or what I was hearing.
There is a rooftop party after the play and I am almost too nervous to talk to people. I only know Claudia and she knows everyone. I have one conversation with a guy who says he is a screen writer. I excitedly tell him I want to be a writer so badly. Does he find public transport as inspiring as I do? I am told that he does not and that all his dialogue is fiction pure and simple. I nod stupidly excuse myself and go sit on my partner’s lap while I finish my beer. Who was I kidding? I think. I’m just a kid from the country too stupid to get into Melbourne Uni or Victorian College Of The Arts. That guy saw right through me. It is years until I get back into writing.
Two days ago I get a friend request from a woman with whom I have two mutual friends. Creative mutual friends so i accept. The name is not familiar to me untill I get a message seconds after accepting the friend request. As soon as I started reading I knew exactly who she was and in what context we knew each other. ‘I felt warm inside like glitter was exploding’ to quote Rebecca Bunch from the Netflix series Crazy Ex Girlfriend. That project I was a part of ten years ago has grown heaps and is about to celebrate its tenth birthday. Claudia is in the process of trying to find as many people as possible who are past participants to invite them to the celebration.
Its going to be so great to see her again and be able to share with her just how much that random beautiful moment on the 57 tram changed my life and inspired its trajectory in so many ways that could not be comprehended fully until now.
Since being in her beautiful play that was in a tiny garage. A play about childhood and adulthood. A play that I didn’t really understand but was happy to be a part of anyway, I have written so much and participated in performances written by my own brain or in collaboration. To tell her that I am now writing a play or trying to write a play for The Malthouse. I wonder if that screen writer guy will be at the ten year celebration? Its a shame i don’t remember what he looks like. I am so much more confident in the face of dudes like him now.
Niw I would respond to his over self important prattle with something about how his idea of individualality his essential and ultimate being is not actually individualality It is merely a manifestation of his perceived individuality. That his creative mind in itself knows neither time nor beginning or end… it exists in everyone everywhere. Thus his pure creative output is not actually only his. At all.
There is no shame in being inspired by the world around you. There is no shame in being inspired by your own life experiences. Unless you are a wealthy cis gendered white man.
I had never felt ”perfect” for anything. To be told I was perfect for something. Perfect for arty creative stuff like plays was a revelation. I was not wanting I was wanted. Not wanted in the sexual romantic sense. Wanted in a much much more interesting and life affirming way. I was wanted for art.