by Tess Crain
What is the meaning of an imaginary friend? Appearing mainly to children but at times lasting into adulthood, invented companions can signal madness, creativity, both, or neither. Sometimes, they simply serve as company. A writer I know used to have an unreal pal named Zee—“he had a kind of sarcastic jauntiness”—who resembled a wisp of smoke and wore a monocle, like an ephemeral Mr. Peanut: “he was my only real friend for a while.” My roommate had a tiny, bald, blue man who sat on her shoulder and scouted for danger. A college friend once had multiple miniature dragons. In most cases, these familiars erupt from the collision between psyche and environment: reading a fantasy series, watching performance art, loneliness.