Terry was – is – literally the man of my dreams. I suppose that makes him a slightly more grown up version of an imaginary friend. However, I still believe that just because he isn't real doesn't mean he couldn't be someday. I keep looking for him in every man I meet.
I think I must have been about sixteen the first time I wrote about Terry, but I'd been dreaming of him ever since I discovered boys. At that time, he was a young girl's figure of romance. He was just my age. He played the guitar, sang baritone, acted, and studied Latin. In short, he pursued all the activities that would throw him into frequent contact with me if he were at my school. He was intelligent, creative, and most importantly, he liked me. And, of course, he was tall, dark, and handsome. It may be a cliche, but it's one I happen to be fond of.
At that age, all I really wanted was someone who liked me. I didn't have much of a concept of love, and I didn't have enough of a concept of sexuality to imagine it clearly. I would have been content with someone who would talk to me, hold my hand, and cuddle with me. I wrote about that as my ultimate desire. It stopped being my ultimate desire very nearly immediately after I found it. I have trouble now even remembering myself as that innocent and naive.
Terry's changed a lot over the years, possibly a great deal more than I have. My experiences have changed my expectations, and I'm more particular about what I look for. I can still recognize Terry as the same person, even though that innocent girl probably wouldn't believe it.
So who is Terry, this man of my dreams, now?
Terry is still tall, dark, and reasonably handsome. He's about six foot three or four, broad-shouldered, and solidly built. He's got some muscle on him, but it's not obvious when he's not using it. He has medium brown hair, with red highlights, and gorgeous brown eyes. He is usually clean-shaven, but he'll sometimes get a little scruffy on weekends. He isn't the type who turns heads on street corners, but he's definitely worth a second look. He's a few years older than me now, since time doesn't have to run linearly in the imagination.
When he was younger, Terry spent a lot of time looking for something he never found, without ever figuring out just what it was. College took him five years and two schools, and he didn't form any lasting friendships. He had several serious girlfriends over the years, and quite a few that weren't so serious. He even wanted to marry one of them, or perhaps he did marry her. Either way, she left him. She took with her a large part of his spirit. He isn't bitter, although he does have some regrets. He hasn't dated much in the last couple of years, perhaps because he's afraid of wasting his time. He's looking for marriage and family, not just for a good time.
He has a good job that pays well. He owns his home, and most of his extra money goes to paying down his mortgage. He doesn't see the point in traveling alone, so he mostly takes vacation time at home. His house is furnished very simply, and it doesn't show much of his personality. He has no pets. He likes animals, and his family always had cats, but it hasn't occurred to him he could have his own.
Speaking of his family, they're close, but not too close. He has a sister who's my age, and she worries about him. She'd be happy to see him with a girl who's good for him, but she doesn't want to see him get his heart broken again.
His hobbies are diverse. He reads, of course, and plays computer games, and other such things. He enjoys outdoor sports, although he's never been team-oriented. He used to be musical (baritone and guitar, remember?) but he hasn't really given much time to that in a number of years. He's been neglecting most of his hobbies, though, because he started graduate classes this fall and is in class two nights a week. He plays poker with the guys from his work twice a month, and generally breaks even.
Unlike my impressions of a decade ago, there's decidedly a sexual component to how I see him now. I won't go into TMI detail, but let's just say that what I am looking for has changed substantially, unless you've talked to me about it recently. Since Terry is my very own fantasy, naturally he's completely compatible with what I want, and always has been as it's changed.
Terry feels he's gotten too dull and predictable, and he's not following through on his own nature. He is looking for someone who will fit into the necessary parts of his routine, like the classes and job, but will shake up the rest of it. He isn't looking for a wild woman; he's dated people like that and they tend to drive him nuts. Instead, he wants someone who can inspire him to some of the things he used to do and be, and lead him into new pursuits he may not have considered. And he wants her to be looking for the same things in him. He thinks that growing and learning together sounds wonderful, and he wishes it weren't just a dream. He's tired of dreams.
I'm tired of dreams too, and it's a shame that's all that Terry is. When I meet him in my dreams, we get along very well, frighteningly quickly. I trust him, enough to relinquish control to him. He understands me better than anyone else I've ever known. He can read my emotions and guess my thoughts, he can anticipate my needs and desires. What's more, I can read him just as well. He forces me into the things I'm afraid to try, reviving his own interests at the same time. I show him a warmth and depth of feeling he never thought he'd find.
I have believed, several times, that I might have found Terry. Each time I have been wrong. Each time I learn more about myself, and what I am really looking for as opposed to what I thought I wanted. The same is true every time I'm attracted to someone who I know isn't Terry, as well. Terry is really a lot more about what I don't want than about what I do want.
This doesn't begin to cover everything I hold in my imagination, any more than any of my other essays have said everything about the real people. If I actually met someone who was exactly like what I've described, I would be more disturbed than intrigued. Nor is it a checklist. I'm simply not that kind of person. If anything, it's more a standard to compare against to help me find the flaws in people I don't want to fall for. In the long run, Terry is just a pleasant dream, an unobtainable ideal. Everyone needs to have dreams.