Unrequited love happened to me when I was 14 and I’d never suffered such unjust agony before. It seemed impossible that the recipient of my infatuation would barely register when I came into the room. The total indifference was made all the more torturous by alarmingly sporadic, very occasional, incredibly minor – glimmers of hope. A smile. A friendly hug. A ‘how are you?’ became the axis upon which my world could spin or stick.
Now I find my career to be an equally fickle lover. Oh Acting, you tease, was that wink meant for me? We have inconsistent flings. I feel like the centre of Acting’s world for, let’s say the few months of a play – or a couple of days of filming – or a week workshopping – or a rehearsed reading one evening.Acting reels me in with scintillating experiences and I give my all, giddy in the joy of its attention. My heart sings and my body flexes and all my friends and family say how great it is to see me so happy – they say that I’m actually glowing. I laugh more, I eat better, I sleep well. We are two soul-mates entwined and secure in the certainty that we are made for each other. I cannot imagine life being any other way.
And then one day, I wake up and Acting is gone. The bed is cold. I’m hungover. There’s no note of explanation or indication of when Acting will be back. I cling to hope in the immediate aftermath of Acting’s departure but I hear nothing and the hope dwindles desperately. Every now and then, someone mentions that Acting’s back in my part of town for a while so I get in contact (I write to the casting director) but get no reply (I get no reply). I get a couple of exotic postcards inviting me to come out and join Acting (auditions) but when I respond, I receive a reply telling me that Acting still loves me but my eyes are too blue. Sometimes Acting rings me from a pay phone and asks me to call back, which I do and we talk for hours, like we’ve never been apart, but when I hang up I realise I’m broke (an unpaid fringe job). Eventually it occurs to me that Acting isn’t good for me. I’m poor and tired and depressed and maybe it’s time to find someone else. I meet someone who is reliable and kind and consistent and a bit rich (a normal job) and who, bizarrely, seems interested in me. More than interested – they love me! They propose! They know I have an important past lover but they can see that was never going to work and so offer me the life-style that Acting never could. I’d be a fool to turn them down. I am tempted to accept. I text Acting to say it’s over, I’ve found someone else. Acting doesn’t reply. I accept.
I put all of Acting’s clothes in a bin bag and decide that married-life will be for the best. I start picking out flowers and a cake and draw up a guest list and think actually maybe I really could be happy with someone other than Acting. They don’t kiss as well as Acting does but at least they remember how I like my tea. But then, quite suddenly, when I’m doing the ironing on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, Acting turns up unannounced on my doorstep with a dozen red roses and two tickets to Paris (an offer), smiling that smile and full of apologies and legitimate explanations for the AWOL. ‘The Eurostar leaves in half an hour, I need a decision,’ murmurs Acting seductively. I don’t even have to think. I call off the engagement, cancel all my plans and miss important family events. I leave the house without my phone charger and run straight back into Acting’s arms. My heart is exploding with joy and love and power and I know this time is really it. We’re back together for good.
After a while in Paris, Acting will bump into an old flame and probably desert me without a word. But for now, we’re canoodling at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
The Acting Industry doesn’t hate you, it’s just indifferent.
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