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New Fantasies


A year or two ago I began writing a personal essay about multiplicity, which I saved under the title "New Fantasies." It started as follows:

When I daydream about personal goals or a happy future, many of my fantasies clearly occur in a world where I am a singlet. I don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with fantasizing about being a singlet -- there are a lot of frustrating aspects to multiplicity, and escaping one's worldly frustrations is often the point of fantasy. I also tend to speak more clearly in my fantasies, and to feel less tired. But it bothers me that singlethood comes up when I try to think about things that I hope to achieve or things that I want to experience. It bothers me that it isn't a choice I make. It's just an assumption, present nearly any time I don't consciously avoid it, marking my dreams as untenable.

...I never wrote any further, which is nothing unusual -- the notepad application on my phone is full of one or two sentence ideas that I may or may not ever expand upon. This one is unique only in that I still like the idea, and still like the writing, but don't feel quite right continuing it directly -- I still relate to what I wrote, but it isn't something I could have written today. I hardly ever fantasize about the future anymore. It isn't something I ever really noticed myself giving up, but give it up I have. I don't plan gardens in the winter, or elaborate sewing projects for "when I can." When I have a crush I quash the daydreams that follow it. I only work with what I already have access to.

I don't know what to think of this. Certainly there's nothing wrong with living in the moment -- it's something many people strive for, and often for good reason. But in this case I don't associate it with any decrease in anxiety or feeling of contentment. Maybe it's a natural shift in my life...yet I can't help but wonder if it isn't at least partially a result of what I once described: fantasies that always favor a singlet existence. Fantasies that make even the most mundane dreams unachievable.

In those opening lines I touched on the "frustrating aspects" of plurality -- the complicating factors, the inherent lack of time. Sometimes it was a positive experience to imagine a life without those complications. I would ask myself, where might I be now? What kind of person would I be? Sometimes it was simple indulgence in escapism. Sometimes it led me to realize that there are parts of me that I would not have if I was a singlet. Parts of me that I love. Things that I have no desire to give up.

But sometimes it was stressful, and depressing, and only made me resent myself as well as my situation. I would daydream about a husband and a garden and a picket fence, and I would realize that I was alone there, and I would feel dread or guilt or emptiness in a way that I never did when I fantasized about alternate worlds or alternate pasts. At times I told myself that it hurt because I was longing for something wrong, for the absence of the people I share this body with. In truth I think what made it painful may well have been the way I combined that impossible, escapist fantasy of singlethood with things that otherwise could have been feasible futures.

Being a house-husband is not a definite future or even a likely one for me, but every aspect of it -- the husband, the house, the picket fence -- is something that I can hope for or build toward. When I fantasize about confessions of love I can hope that the circumstances align to allow them, even if I don't expect them to. But chance will not make me a singlet, and the only steps that I can take toward being a singlet are things that I am unwilling to do. There is no singlet future for me in this life -- nor do I genuinely want there to be.

Why would something be so persistent in my fantasies of the future if I don't want it and don't enjoy fantasizing about it? Singlethood is a default, for one. As a fictive and once-roleplay-character it's how I'm used to thinking of myself. All of my starting points are in singlethood: singlet versions of myself, stories about singlets. There isn't a lot of romance or indulgent fiction to read about plurans, much less about plurans who are similar to me. And singlethood is simple. Uncomplicated. It is easier to imagine a world in which my cohost does not exist than one in which we both have enough time.

My title gives away the conclusion I reached the first time I thought about this, and the one I reach now: if my old fantasies of the future didn't offer me much, perhaps I need new fantasies. Not necessarily more realistic ones, but more plural ones. If I can tell myself stories of the future that have room for this system, for this body, perhaps I can find some hope in those. Perhaps I can put aside some of the unhappiness I harbor over what I can't have.

It's a more difficult exercise than I feel it should be.

I never realized how little I really direct my own daydreams until now. It's doable, but it isn't pleasant, which really seems to defeat the purpose of a daydream. It helps, though. Not to strongarm elaborate fantasies out of myself, but to change the way I think about the future on a smaller scale. I've stopped stifling my daydreams when I catch myself with a crush, but I do quiet the part of myself that wants to sink into a world where each of us is alone in our own body; instead of telling myself what I want from them in a perfect world I ask what I want in a perfect future, or in a place I know. I think he would like the rose garden; and what would we do in the rose garden? I want him to hold me the same way again; where could that happen? And I feel happy. I may not have what I want tomorrow, with the person I'm thinking about now, but I could have it someday, with someone.