Can one love air?

No, not the breathable stuff, but an essential substance of a different kind: the beings that live in our personal ether. The creatures of our imaginings.

I’ve confessed before in this space that I am in love with a flesh-and-blood man I have never met. I admit reluctantly that I bear a great and impossible affection for a another breathing being of slight acquaintance. And, too, I hold close an enduring love for a being made of nothing more than the air between my ears.

I am in love with the man I am writing.

I do not entirely know this enigmatic being. I know only what he chooses to show me. And yet, I love what I see.

A cruel and a bizarre truth, this—carrying an imagined life; feeling as full of mourning and loss as if he were a mate far from me. And stranger still, this is, in all its cheerless truth, a relationship more satisfying than all the encounters of online dating so far.

And no, I am not insane. Is any writer?

If the writer loves an unreal being with all her heart, is he alive in the alternate universe of us? Can we, like Pygmalion, animate our beloved out of wish and vision? Can we, in the absence of real love, live in our heads and not wind up as pathetic life-wannabes?

I choose to believe so. I choose to believe that human interactions can and will live up to my imagined ones…eventually. I believe it, I hope it…but I don’t hope too hard.


Perhaps a better model—a less melancholy one—is Elwood P. Dowd, friend and companion to a six-foot tall, invisible rabbit named Harvey. Elwood was unconcerned about who might not believe in the unseen creature that walked beside him. He was content in a friendship, a love, that was real to him. The rest was interpretation.

So perhaps I’ll just continue to live my enduring, breathtaking affection for the creature of my creation. My Elwood’s Rabbit. At worst, he is an idealization of a never-to-be-known love. At best, he is an expressions of love for myself. I’ll take the truth, either way it comes.