Her name was Chrissy, and I wanted her to be my daughter, but that meant I was going to have to find a woman named Chris and marry her first. But that would all be years in the future because I was 7 years old and not in any position to get married, even if it were just an imaginary one. And where would I find a woman named Chris anyway? She only existed in my mind, and even that grasp on her was a tenuous one. But let me start at the beginning.
We were supposed to have imaginary friends, or at least that’s what the other kids would say on lazy summer days when we sat on our porches or played in the stream from the hijacked fire hydrant. I would sit there and listen to them go on about their own, about Mark, and Sandy, and Guinevere, and Taniqua, and Jeff, and Lonnie, and I felt like I knew each of them intimately. They had histories and presents. They were involved in the day-to-day household affairs, and they had unique personalities that always bordered on the fantastic. But for me there was no one.
So I went home and discovered my imagination wasn’t a stagnant thing after all, that I could create flesh and bone too, all in my mind. And her name was Chrissy. She was a wee child in swaddling clothes, and I didn’t know what to make of her. I still don’t. I think it’s telling that when I finally came up with an imaginary friend she was more than just a friend. She was a child of mine, even back then, even at 7 years old I was dreaming of being a father.
I told my sister about Chrissy the day after the latter was born, about how she came to me in a dream, in a puff of smoke born from jealousy and release. She laughed that I was so specific, that the child I knew I would have could at that moment really exist in my mind, the blueprint of which blew in from the ether. But she knew I was serious, or as serious as a 7 year old could possibly be. That’s when I knew I would have to find and fall in love with a woman named Chris, so we could have our Chrissy for real.
But I never did find that woman named Chris to fall in love with, someone who I could convince to name our child after her, and I did a lot of searching. My imaginary Chrissy, meanwhile, grew up along with me, through years of tribulation and pain, but also of joy and discovery. Her smile lit up my world, even if it was only in my mind, until I found that woman who would be my life’s mate, and we had daughters who are made of actual flesh and blood. Then Chrissy began to fade.
Because I didn’t need her anymore. And that’s as it should be.