Emerging Writers’ Festival x Jack Colwell
The fantastic, Melbourne-based Emerging Writers’ Festival is a cultural melting-pot for writers to come together to learn their craft, showcase their work to their peers and let off some steam. If you thought musicians were party animals – you’ve really seen nothing until you put a bunch of writers in the same room.
The non-for-profit organisation showcased a wide range of diversity across its many writers who took part in the 2014 program – some established and well-known, others finding their feet, or rather, their voice. Something You Said’s Jack Colwell was chosen to MC a popular item on the festival calendar, Mixtape Memoirs (in partnership with ‘The Lifted Brow’).
A desperately romantic line-up of writers and musicians (Ella Hooper, Geoffrey O Connor, Jenny Valentish, Chad Parkhill to name a few) wrote memoirs based around a song that played during a pivotal moment during their romantic history – a song that would shape them and forever hold a memory accountable to that certain lover or crush, for better or worse.
Jack has decided to share his with us:
You were the first bad relationship I ever had, the kind where everything soured. There were others before, don’t get me wrong, but nothing like this.
How I tossed and turned wishing I’d never gone on that date, wishing I’d taken my responsibilities more seriously and finished off my third year uni assignment instead of following my heart; And possibly my penis;
I’m sure you’ve done the same.
I didn’t do that though, did I… I ended up at The Brighton Bar, watching you nervously place $4 of your money, and a shiny gold $2 coin I gave you in the jukebox so that we could listen to some songs of our choice.
A tactic used in dating solely to impress the other using musical prowess. A tactic developed long before the mixtape, by the greasers, when love was in the summer and occurred between two people wearing sweaty leather jackets.
It’s funny you know, I remember the exact moment you walked in and just how taken a back I was by your beauty, or was it your nervousness? Boy, you were nervous, weren’t you? I guess I was too, and god how we drank, and drank and drank – until we got to the stage of the date where our knees were touching and I couldn’t believe that someone so smart and handsome as you was going to go home with a guy like me.
The stage of the date where we were both so drunk that you didn’t care about my heinous laugh and that my clumsy hands or even more clumsy and obvious suggestion that we went back to yours and continued to look up songs on YouTube, as though we were still putting money in the jukebox, was a genuine idea with absolutely no hidden agenda.
You smiled, or winked, or… something… it didn’t matter, you’d agreed, and I knew I’d never felt happier. I knew that then, and I still know that now, that in that moment – I couldn’t have been happier.
The cab ride back to yours – Hands fumbling in the back across denim and zips, so young and eager to see what the other person was hiding, yet two completely opposite intentions.
You see, I was falling in love, and you were already in love, with someone else – hoping I could possibly take that place.
“John! How do you know, John?!” you gasped later, in between panted breaths and the common struggle experienced by all gay men in the last millennium – the removal of skin tight jeans.
I think I made a joke, most likely at his expense. Who wants to talk about the ex when you’re getting down to business?!
But on you went, asking and prodding, hands moving to laps, lips on tongues, and fingers in mouths, on feet, on nipples; until we lay there right next to each other, with a river of space between us – soaking, in the nature of what we’d done.
Now, this wasn’t pertinent at the time, yet on reflection I should’ve known. As we lay there in early November, balmy, long from shivering in the night cold I reached out for your body, naked only moments ago, to feel the cold reflection of cloth – a shield if you will – there you lay swaddled, yet adamant for me to still hold you.
And for this, for this I am certain, that you were wishing that Jack, were John.
As I write this now, it pains me I can see my exit; My window of opportunity.
I could’ve called it a one night stand, hell, I should’ve called it a one night stand, yet I went around and said things to my friends like “I’ve never met anyone like him”, “he loves this obscure artist who made video art about Lindsay Lohan, but like, it’s indie, so it’s clearly ironic”, “great kisser”, “You should’ve seen how big his dick was!”
And so, we continued to date.
Breakfast dates; Gig dates; Future dates we planned that never occurred; Movie dates; My date to the ARIAs… there I was, some mythological archetype of gay boy lurve, teetering on the edge of reality and insanity.
“He loves me, He loves me not, He LOVES me! Oh! let me count thy ways”; followed by silence.
Maybe if the Sydney Morning Herald had never hailed me as being ‘devilishly romantic’, or if I hadn’t been so desperately lonely, if I’d never been gay and had shaken out the confused feelings of unrequited romance earlier, as a teen, I wouldn’t have rushed to be by your side at the COFA grad show when you texted me, drunk, and looking for comfort.
I would’ve realised with a week of silence, all the talk and questions about how I knew who your ex was vaguely, through a friend of a friend of an ex of a lover of a neighbour’s neighbour I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve left it and realised
‘He’s just not that into you’,
But there I was…just a boy, standing in front of another boy, living out the life of a young Carrie Bradshaw – So I lied to my singing teacher and said I had an emergency, an Emergency! Of love, and raced with my last dollars in that taxi blasting Mix 106 at the top of the radio’s lungs, and when I saw you I put my arms around you and said ‘You’re so0o0o0o0o drunk. I’ll have to catch up” and practically poured all of Mexico down my throat and over my shirt, which you pulled up later in the cab on the way back to yours where we did that thing that you do in year six where you take your partner by the hands and swing them around and around until you get really dizzy and fall on the floor and laugh and laugh saying, “Wasn’t that fun! Let’s do it again!” but you’re so woozy from all the spinning, you stay on the floor; Except, unlike in year six, we were adults, so instead of getting up and spinning ‘round again we started kissing, and suddenly I didn’t care about the week of silence… that long, long week.
It was then you put on Torn by Natalie Imbruglia, because you’d been listening to her a lot lately in an attempt to get over a really painful breakup you were going through… you said so the next morning.
So I submitted and lay down in front of you, looking into your huge green eyes. We both nodded in agreement and like that, the deal was made – you transferred your pain onto me.
Suddenly it was me, who was broken and ashamed, lying naked on the floor.
As you slept soundly, I lay wide-awake and I could see my perfect sky was torn.
A year later I met John in Hyde Park, for a date actually. It’s kind of funny really, he asked me, and we had no chemistry. Actually that’s not true – He only asked me because I sent him a dick pic on Grindr, but who cares about the semantics;
It had been so long since I’d thought about you properly. I think I was afraid to touch on the matter again, after Christmas, but we did and it was… nothing. You probably wouldn’t believe me, but that’s when I knew it was over.
Like, officially over.
“I guess the fortune teller’s right, I saw what was there and not some holy light.”
Jack Colwell for Emerging Writers’ Festival ‘Mixtape Memoirs’ 2014. The Emerging Writers’ festival will be heading to Sydney later this year. Listen to Jack’s mixtape for The Lifted Brow below.