Seven performances, over two months of rehearsal. How many hours with the same people, and still we were hungry for each other's company. After rehearsals, after shows, we'd go out together. There was the unspoken sense that spouses, friends, lovers weren't really welcome either, and when they came, there was an odd air of "you don't belong"; not unfriendly just...strange - we are a small tribe, but insular - the bond fast and hard. Three different times they all came to my house, to the beach, to Venice, to the sea, the sky, the sand. But really none of those things - really it was about being shoulder to shoulder with the other primates in the jungle, a small troop of hey-presto-instant-family.
Some of them were working my last nerve. Some of them I'll never get enough of, though maybe I will never see them again. I love them in the same way I loved Army buddies; we suffered together, and chose this suffering with a purpose, to some particular end. In some ways that bond is tighter than family. You can't choose your family, but to be cast in a play, you have to form the intent to do it. You have to go somewhere and risk all your self-esteem in front of a room of strangers who you are competing against, and then be judged by one of them. You may be accepted, you may not. There is a hierarchy too - stars at the top, ensemble and crew at the bottom. But for all that, I love them, and now they're gone. I needed them gone last night, too - I do have that urge for time alone, or at least nearly alone, or I go crazy. I banished them to the beach, where they went and frolicked with the drum circle. At least, in my mind's eye, they frolicked - dancing around, jumping, hugging each other and strangers alike in a last ecstatic rush of togetherness. I love them, but I needed to be alone for a little while. I wanted them to go, and then instantly wanted them to come back.
True, I get my life back. I can catch up on the countless things that have suffered for lack of time. But still, like a blank canvas pleads to be painted - the empty spot where they were wants to be filled. What a lovely, mad, weird, aggravating, inspiring, beautiful bunch of people. Without them around me, I feel open and raw and vulnerable - a snake just finished shucking its skin, a butterfly with wings still drying from the cocoon.
I understand actors develop the knack of letting go of attachments very quickly, to protect against this very phenomenon. But I'm not an actor, and I don't have that knack.