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  • Writer's pictureErin Clark

Imaginary Love

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

photo by Diego Moncayo

You and your high school friend Dana were bobbing saltily in the Mediterranean Sea a couple years ago when she asked, “You are a complex woman who wants all the things and needs an above average dude. What do you think that guy is like?”

She held the handle of the amphibious wheelchair you borrowed from the lifeguard station so you wouldn’t float away and you considered it.

“I’m really into honesty, it’s brave and gives me tingles. I’m naturally guarded. If you don’t specifically ask me about something, I may never think to say anything about it. And even then I might answer with total bullshit without meaning to. But if he’s honest, I get more honest. I get better at it.”

The sea was aqua and glinting, you were floating on it. Warm water splashing Dana’s cheeks, splashing your hips.

“He has to be adventurous. Like seriously into adventures. Dana, I really mean it, adventurous is so important. Physical adventures - which are fun - and emotional adventures - because life is an adventure. He can’t be a spectator type. That’s such a drag. We need to fuel each other. Inspire each other into risks.

“Got it, you don’t want an adventurous guy.” She teased you. Laughing and looking so particularly shiny that you paused your listing of characteristics of the ideal man and took a selfie of the two of you in the sea.

“What else. Smells good. My sense of smell tells me everything I need to know about how I feel about someone. It’s very reliable. If I like how he smells, artificially and naturally - we’re good to go.”

“You’ve really thought about how his characteristics would impact you. Like not just, I want a man who earns millions and is a lawyer or doctor and impossibly handsome and is like a dude I saw on TV and I will not compromise on ANYTHING. You’re like ok, he’s gotta smell good and be honest… and also maybe be a super-hero type, but you’ve thought about why.”

“Well, it is really a list about me. I don’t actually know this guy. He’s a dream I’m having in the sea. A dream about how I want to feel if I was to include another person in my life.” You said and licked sea spray from your lips.

“Yeah, but it works because you know yourself mega well. You lived it.” She’s thinking of your ex. You think of your ex.

You told your ex once that affection and compliments make you feel better when you’re stressed. “Just tell me I’m beautiful to you. I get a huge boost. Which is good even when I’m not stressed.”

“That makes no sense." he said, “If you have a problem how does me telling you you’re beautiful solve it? And if it’s really that easy to make you feel better why can’t you just do it yourself? What’s the point of the arbitrary step of me complimenting you? Plus, now that you’ve told me, it won’t work anyway.”

On principal he didn’t call you beautiful once during your relationship. In the back of your mind you figured being disabled was the only need you could afford to have, and it was already too much. You could certainly handle your feelings on your own, and didn’t everyone tell you you were beautiful all the time? Shouldn’t that be enough? It seemed… reasonable.

“Let’s add romantic to the list. I love romance.” you tell Dana, “I mean, what I love is attention and romance is just attention from someone you want to kiss.”

“Kissing is so important. Does the whole face touch / hair touch thing.” Dana said, swooning into the sunlight.

“For sure, I want to die from kissing him. How do guys not know the face touch thing?”

“If they all knew, they’d all do it. It has to be the ones it comes naturally to. Otherwise we’d be so confused.”

“True.” You said.

“Ok. good list. What are the ‘must haves’ and what are the ‘nice to haves’? Dana said, keeping her chin above a passing wave.

“They’re all must haves, Dana.” you replied, as the same wave gently rocked your floating throne.

“Haha. Ok, but like, what are things that are nice but not essential.”

“It would be nice if he had dark hair. And wasn’t imaginary.”


First, arrange a photoshoot. When she worries about her hair, get her a hairdresser to come to your place and do it for her. Arrive home from work with a gajillion roses because she’s the star. Star of what? Presumably life, because the photo shoot isn’t for any particular thing other than yourselves. When she tilts her face up at you beaming, lean over and face-touch-kiss her. Shake grateful hands with the hairdresser you have never met before for making your #sexicon feel maximum beautiful.

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