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Imaginary Lover: First in a Series of Love Stories with Poems

Updated on February 2, 2009

In a Land of Pure Imagination…

            Since I have discovered an interest in my poetry and in my personal experiences on HubPages, I thought for Valentine’s Day I would wed the two (double meaning intended) in a collection of poems about love that I have written in past years. I found in the writing that it needed accompanying prose to tie it together.

            This first collection involves a teen fantasy I engaged in quite seriously. My best friend and I were both writers, and we developed our characters by treating them like real people. We would take on their personalities and let them talk to one another through us. My friend took the lead in taking things a step further: She became a character in her own stories, living much of her life “over there”—in the dimension of her own mind, and in mine. These characters truly took on a life of their own. I came to believe that they occupied different parts of our brains, and that was how they could be so different from us and from one another. My friend encouraged me to become romantically involved in this other dimension, an idea I at first resisted but later warmed up to…when I “found” the right man.

            Of all places, I found him on a cigarette ad. The serious face looking back from the magazine at my orthodontist’s office intrigued me. It reminded me of so many of my different characters and of real people I knew. Then I realized that the eyes matched those of a drug pusher character I had killed off in a novel I’d been working on. My friend had looked at a drawing I’d made of the pusher, Raymond, and said, “He looks like he’d make a good Christian.” In the story Raymond had to die from his drugs to get out of the way so he would stop influencing his partner in crime, who subsequently did become a Christian.

            I got permission to tear the ad off and take it home. On the bus home, in my mind I talked to my new character to become acquainted him. He said his name was Matthew, a name I liked and wanted to give to a character. He was a rough sort, divorced and bitter, into drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, and one-night stands. He needed Jesus. I planned a conversion story for him, but I needed someone to influence him in that direction. That person turned out to be me. The rest, in a manner of speaking, was history.

            Does it sound weird? My family thought I was too old to have an imaginary friend. I was 15 when I invented him, and about 21 when at the urging of a boyfriend I “killed him off.” I was to learn, however, that when a person exists in your head they never really die. They can come back if you need them. But I get ahead of my story.

            I would like to share the poetry I wrote in those days about Matthew, in the order in which it was written.

Drawing of Matthew based on the cigarette ad

Pencil rendering by Gary Wilbur (an old boyfriend) and me
Pencil rendering by Gary Wilbur (an old boyfriend) and me

Another Breakdown

I came in, you were sleeping,
for the time being, safe
but I knew you'd wake
and when you did
the sun would tumble down
from the sky.
Another night I lay close
to your heart
and felt disorder there;
Your hand moved
touched my hair
calming the tears
in my eyes.
Next day found me following you
through the streets
as you took the poison of destruction,
never caring.
On my bed I prayed you would retain
something of yourself.
Today found me waiting
but knowing
you couldn't come back;
and when we found you
someone had turned you
inside out.
There you lie, and do not move,
your words delirious sounds;
You have me worried, love;
I'm afraid you'll be knowing less
than before
and will not remember you have kissed me
but more I mind
that you may not remember
who you were.
Yet through all this
you've given me a song,
I would not leave this heap of a man;
For what you've given me
is the blessed tragedy
and the desolate bliss
of love.

Matthew, impressed when I stood up to him, one day called me “one hell of a woman”—something I’d always wanted to be called. It wasn’t long before he decided to follow my Jesus. He also promised to quit smoking if I kept his mouth occupied with kisses.

Matthew and me on our first date, where he said, "Let's be partners." (watercolor by the author)
Matthew and me on our first date, where he said, "Let's be partners." (watercolor by the author)
Married in a field of wildflowers (colored pencil drawing by the author)
Married in a field of wildflowers (colored pencil drawing by the author)

The Lost Poem: Two-Dimensional Inn

The day after my 16th birthday, Matthew and I were married in a field of lavendar wildflowers somewhere in the hills of the Hollywood of my imagination. In my real life, otherwise known as the outside world or the third dimension, I was coming home from a vacation in Oregon. So my “two-dimensional” husband and I traveled north while my family traveled south, to be in the same hotel for our wedding night. That helped make it vivid! It was in the town of Pacifica, just outside San Francisco, where my father’s car broke down. However, because of my own ignorance about sex, I felt that things were not working right and that Matthew wasn’t real enough for me. Without telling my best friend, I abandoned my fantasy in the middle of the honeymoon. Tearfully, I wrote a poem called “Two-Dimensional Inn,” which I wanted to share here, but it was never typed and it is lost somewhere amid unsorted papers. I repeat the words I remember:

But I won’t forget Pacifica,
And I won’t forget Song of Solomon
Or the way we tried,
Or the way we cried
…Damn, spare the wordy talk, you’re just no longer there!


Not having these writings is a great motivation to sort the rest of my papers!

Together Again

But wait. That’s not the end of the story. When I learned some of the things I hadn’t known, I had second thoughts. Of course my friend wasn’t happy about the “breakup” when she learned about it. She invited both me and Matthew to a party at the mansion where she and her own imaginary husband lived. So we each showed up, separately. The thing that was different about this imaginary party was that I let my friend imagine Matthew without me. She told me afterward of the conversation she had with him. He had come upstairs, tipsy (I had “observed” him drinking and been disgusted that he was returning to his old ways), to her baby’s room. When he looked at the baby, the baby stopped crying. Matthew said, “I like kids…as long as they’re not my own.” (He had made his previous wife get an abortion.) Then he said, “I wish I could put a bag over Robin's head and take her somewhere and show her that I matter. Not her parents. Not her boyfriend. Me.

I could have rejected my friend’s story because I hadn’t invented it. But it sounded like something Matthew would say. It made him larger than my own imagination. And I felt that he did matter. All the love I had poured into him—and all the love he had poured into me—accounted for something. Tentatively, I thought I had made a mistake, and that it wasn’t too late to correct it.

We met in a sitting room of the house we shared with a generous friend. Yeah, it was all in my mind, but it was beautiful. We were both naked—physically and metaphorically. We poured out our hearts to one another. I told him I wanted to move up north in the country somewhere, and he said he loved the country, too. We also decided to give parenthood a go. Being a lady’s man, he thought it would be best to have a little girl first. Since it was all in my mind, that could be arranged.

When I told my friend later, she gasped, “You mean you two want to start a family?”

I just smiled. Or so I’d like to say; I don’t really remember, but it sounds like a good way for the story to go.

Matthew and I moved up to Spokanne, Washington, which I had ridden through once and fallen in love with. He set up business as a photographer. We had a little house, built a darkroom in it, and we had a stallion my friend’s husband had given me, later joined by a mare “sold” to us by a man I knew in college. I gave birth to a girl named JuliAnne (I kept a journal all nine months!), and, years later, to a boy named Justin.

Love: A Trinity of Poems

I wrote all three of these poems about the same time. They were meant to go together. The title of the first one, “Inner Sight,” became the name of the notebook in which I keep hard copies of all the poems I’ve written that I still have. I was still in high school when I wrote these. In July 2005, I published “Inner Sight” with “Application”under the title “Inner Sight” in my newsletter, Sweet Comfort. Later I put all three on my now-defunct website, Robin’s Nest.

Inner Sight

Have you ever been somebody else?
Known how he runs, is put together
as he reaches out to you
or someone else he loves?
Has somebody else ever been you,
known how you feel about him
on a warm summer day 
when memories travel quickly through your soul?
These things I remember
when I think of you,
smile and softly treasure
all we have gone through.
These things I remember
when I remember love . . .
Hands and eyes reaching,
Bitter tears teaching,
You and I living,
You and I
in love.


What do I love?
Someone within me? 
Only me?
Who do I love? Someone beyond me,
a smile above my reach?
A touch—like a star too near to be
in the eyes of some I hold dear
I'd sooner leave behind for you.
What do I love?
Whatever it is
it's lovely.


If only I could apply
all I've learned from you
to the world outside
I'd be all right.
I see
is not you
--not me
but me, when I am you,
you, when you are me;
us, when I am they
and real when I am he.
Not so hard--
Just feeling
empathy inside
A moment when I'm glancing
into the other side;
A place in time I'm fancying
within a rushing tide
all the tears and laughing brooks
a harmonizing stride.



After I Heard Your Voice

No one told me I'd miss you more
after I heard your voice;
Here I sit
grinning to your old song,
All your strength and mighty love;
I miss you more than ever.

Free in coarseness,
old in
you marched on, in spite of grief,
failure, and all the wrongs
you'd done,
calling me, in knowledge of something at last
that ought to stay.
All this I hear in the way you speak, laugh, sing.

Closeness we have known, your suggestive follies,
manliness I can't explain
(What is a man?)
The wisdom and old despair
mount to
my leaning to the baby's crib
--the fragment of you still resting home,
a sweetness in the breath of your return--
“Daughter, you are richly blessed,
this goodly tarnished godly man
being your father.”

After I heard your voice...



Moving up north--in both dimensions

"Anyone can be a father, but it takes a special kind of person to be a daddy." Matthew with our imaginary daughter, JuliAnne, and stallion Mirin
"Anyone can be a father, but it takes a special kind of person to be a daddy." Matthew with our imaginary daughter, JuliAnne, and stallion Mirin
Me at Beverly Beach with camera, wearing dress Matthew loved (green was his favorite color)
Me at Beverly Beach with camera, wearing dress Matthew loved (green was his favorite color)

The Deaths

            In my real life, at 20 I moved from Orange County, California, to Beverly Beach, Oregon, where I met a young man who said God had told me I was to marry him. I was to learn the hard way never to listen to such a person when I had not received any such word from God myself. This boyfriend felt threatened by Matthew and claimed that he might “become a demon.” I didn’t think he would, but I knew that the man I had married in my mind had become so real that he was frustrated. Matthew was attracted to women and had no outlet for that. We were away from my friend, so he had no chance to just be himself around someone outside me who accepted him. He was not sure what he was. But he was comforted by the scripture verse that says of God: "for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:11) I may not know what I am, he thought. I may not even be a person. But I am a thing, a created thing, and therefore I am created by God for His pleasure.” One day he sat down and scrawled in the handwriting I had designed just for him, “I love, therefore I am.”

            Armed with those insights, he was willing to step aside if it was best for me.

            I read in the newspaper of a plane crash and decided he and the children had been on that plane. I went back in time and spent one tearful night holding little baby Justin in my arms. Then all three were gone.

            I felt like a real widow. But I couldn’t confide in anyone or get their comfort. I suffered alone. Not even my therapist sister was sympathetic. She simply wrote to me, “You are still being delusional when you say you killed him off.”

Heartbreak to Contentment

The boyfriend I became engaged to turned out to be a liar, a hypocrite, a drug user, and a serious abuser. He almost killed me twice by choking me. The second choking was after I had broken up with him and still tried to be friends. I escaped with my life, and found refuge in a cabin where I lived by myself in secret. Strange as it may sound, that year or so of recovering from the abuse was invaded by a sweet peace. It was just God and me now. Using the parable of Ezekiel 16, the Lord led me to understand that I had made idols of my boyfriends, when all along I belonged to Him. He promised to make me true to Him. This was not something I could do in and of myself. I was glad of this strong, tough love of His. For the time being, I was content.

(More to come in next Hub, "Love Me Blind: Imaginary Lover 2")

Be honest!

Did you ever have an imaginary friend or lover?

See results

On Love and Reality

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
In this book, my favorite novel of all time, Psyche's sister thinks that because she cannot see Psyche's lover and his palace, they can't be real. I know how Psyche felt!

Remember the Song?


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    • Robin Layne profile imageAUTHOR

      Robin Layne 

      11 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you, loveofnight. I hadn't thought of it that way. I think of journals (unless you mean publications like magazines) as being full of entries on or near the same days they took place--like a diary, but more focused and literary. I enjoy sometimes providing prose elaborations to go with my poetry. One poem doesn't seem long enough or extensive enough to make a Hub, and I also enjoy grouping poems that naturally go together.

    • loveofnight profile image

      Loveofnight Anderson 

      11 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      you writing style is as a journal,interesting approach

    • Robin Layne profile imageAUTHOR

      Robin Layne 

      11 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you. Have you read the second part?

      I've been nervous about people reading this because it's so personal.

    • TKIMWRSVC profile image


      11 years ago from United States

      Interesting, very in depth. very


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