I really want to finish the undeniably lovely book I'm reading. It's called The Line of Beauty and I'm nearly dying to find out how it turns out. The main character in the book is more like me than anyone I've ever met in my life: more like me than Jonathan in A Home at the End of the World, more than Harry Potter, more, perhaps, than the conglomerate of characters in Flesh & Blood. It's uncanny, incredible even, the way Alan Hollinghurst understands me.
There is a peace hanging over this evening. I feel no real stress, even though I most probably should, and I am without duties for the evening. When I work two jobs like this, I am always stunned when I have a night (or any amount of time, for that matter) to myself. I almost have no idea how to fill it. It's wonderful... and then I really, honestly miss the work: the rush of creativity and criticism wrapped up as one thing. I love the judgment that I am allowed as I prod and push and command and then undercut it all with acquiescence and--more infrequently--humility. I love the joy of mastering something, or perhaps it is the joy of watching something grow, like parenting: watching a knobby-kneed, gangly, awkward child grow into a thing of beauty, a source of pride, before my eyes. And all the time I fight with them and hope for them and beg them to do things and look at them disapprovingly. Sometimes I know my power and sometimes I don't, and though I try to act with wisdom and generosity, perhaps I am often rash and unfeeling, unwary of their watchful eyes upon me as I criticize or praise one of them or secretively take notes on my legal pad.
* * * * *
The other day when I was on the phone with Andrew he asked me a question that surprised me. He asked me if I'd given up acting. My response came quickly. It's something I've been thinking about recently: "I don't think I was ever really that good of an actor, Andrew." He seemed shocked that I'd said it, and then he disagreed with me about it. He spread the praise around so as not to commit too much to his compliment of me and said that the best actors he's ever worked with are still the actors from CSUP. I let the conversation go somewhere else after that (Andrew is always much better at conversation when discussing himself, anyway), but praise from someone so critical means a lot to me, I guess. I had always wanted him to praise my acting ability and he absolutely never did... hardly ever praised anything I did, really. I still think I'm right about my own talents as an actor, and I wasn't at all looking for his praise, but I wonder... if the right play came along, I would probably like to try it again one day. The right play never did come along while I was at university. Well, it did, but I was directing it, and I couldn't very well act in the thing to boot, could I?