Reality vs Fantasy

Recently I’ve been having these vivid daydreams about people I’ve never met.

I think creatives are the loneliest kind of human beings. We are always living in between the lines of reality and fantasy, never fully able to transition completely into the “real.” Maybe this is why musicians write songs, actors jump into character roles, photographers capture through a lens, writers create works fiction, visual artists paint/sculpt/draw their reality. Our art becomes the only “reality” that matters.

Yesterday on the A train, I saw a gorgeous man, sans wedding band sitting across from me, wearing his perfectly tailored gray suit, skinny tie, and hair that had just enough gel, but not too much. I looked into his eyes and imagined what a first date with this guy might be like.

Surely he would take me to a cute wine bar, probably in the Lower East Side; so quaint, the normal person overlooks it, similar to the way Muggles can’t see the Leaky Cauldron. He orders me a bitter, dry, red wine, because he instinctively knew that’s what I like best. We exchange stories about wine tasting: me in Santa Barbara, him in Napa Valley, and then laugh about how we secretly enjoy buying cheap wine on a Friday night because we know we will down the whole bottle while watching some obscure indie flick on Netflix.

When we leave the bar, it starts to rain, and he covers me up with his Burberry suit jacket, the same one I saw when I first met eyes with him on the subway. I throw it back at him and run in the rain, not caring that I’m getting soaked. I almost get run over by a taxi and he shakes his head at me and covers my shoulders up with his jacket, his umbrella already out.

We duck into a local dive bar after I hear funk music blaring from the inside. We order whiskeys and dance to the live band. We leave the bar only when the bartender finally tells us that he has to close up shop. He is so smitten with me, telling me that his life in finance has been so boring up until the night he met me. I’m his breath of fresh air, his lifeline back into the world. I’m the house in the Wizard of Oz that took him from black and white to technicolor…

Then I snapped back into reality.

There I was, eyeliner slightly smudged from working all day, armpits sweating, sitting on a hot train. My lipstick could have been touched up and my hair way flying whatever way it wanted to, haphazardly up in a bun. I looked his way to see if there was any inkling that this man had even noticed my existence, that he had perhaps seen the very same premonition as me. All I received was a blank stare, that was probably in reaction to my mindless staring. You know how you can tell when someone is staring at you, and then you glance at them as if to say, “Please stop staring at me.”

That’s what happened. Then he got off at the next stop, and probably went back to his TriBeCa apartment and kissed his beautiful leggy blonde girlfriend. She probably decorated their apartment right out of a Pottery Barn catalogue, and spent her days sitting out on their balcony, reading Harlequin novels as her big, fat engagement ring sparkled in the sunlight. This man of course didn’t mind trading in his bachelor pad for a frilly apartment, because he knew that it was all worth it for her.

…it was worth it for her.

When I told a friend that I had been daydreaming like this, he scoffed at me and told me, “Shan, you think too much.”

But maybe I think too much because facing the reality that I get up every day, go to work, come home, go to the gym, sit at the piano, play on Facebook with all my fake “friends,” watch Netflix and then go to bed alone makes me feel incredibly insignificant.

It’s lonely.

It’s boring.

There is no passion in that life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of passion. But what is singular passion that is shared with no one?

I’m aching for an adventure. I’m aching for shared passion. I want someone to get lost in me.

I want someone I can get lost in.

So today on the train, I sat across from a Brooklyn hipster: tall, lean, tattoos that were artsy and probably had some deep meaning to the owner.

Again, my mind slipped away. We took a Sunday drive to upstate New York where we found a charming little hiking trail. Our phones were left off and we had nothing but our backpacks filled with water, granola bars and SPF 50 sunscreen (because I burn so easily that I’ll turn into a tomato without it). I’m wearing no makeup, my hair is up in a messy bun, and I have a red bandana that is tied around my head so that it looks like a little bow on my forehead. My cutoff shorts expose my white, pasty, thick legs. My sports bra shows of my awkwardly broad shoulders, with my skinny waist that never looks like it should belong in conjunction with my thick bottom half. He tells me he loves my tattoos and my alabaster skin. I smile and admire his incredible ability to be so aloof, while seeming so cool and collected. He’s wearing his favorite pair of cutoff shorts that he made when his favorite pair of jeans procured a hole in the knee. His long hair is pulled back into a low ponytail. I’ve never heard of the band that is displayed on his shirt and find out that neither has he, because he bought it for a dollar at a Bushwick thrift store. He tells me he wishes he could have brought his guitar, but didn’t want to lug it on the hike.

We set up shop near a stream with an old, ratty blanket and talk about how nice it is to escape from the city for once. The sun in my eyes causes me to squint at him awkwardly, but he just smiles. We talk about music and art and all the places we want to go when we’re done with our time in nature. All the sudden a spider crawls over my hand and I freak out before he picks it up and sets it down on the boulder next to me, letting it roam free, away from it’s imminent death if it gets close to me again.

He laughs and tells me that he loves how I try to have such a hard exterior, but he likes to see my vulnerability peek through. I throw a stick at his face and tell him to shut up, giggling like an idiot. We listen to the wind rustling in the trees and I lay my head in his lap to look up at the clouds. We are lost in the moment, in silence.

On the drive home, we don’t speak, just glance over at one another once in a while to grin like fools. We’re just… happy. He turns up the Steely Dan playlist and we scream the words to Reelin’ in the Years. Later that night I fall asleep on his beanbag chair (because, you know, he has one of those) as he plays something absentmindedly on his guitar.

I was jolted back to reality by a homeless man, shaking his cup for money in my face. By the time I looked up, my beautiful hipster was gone.

I started thinking again about what my friend said… about thinking too much. Ironically I was thinking about thinking, and I began to realize that my daydreams are what keep me afloat sometimes.

Fantasy is getting lost in a story, in romance, in love, in passion, in adventure.

Reality is routine, the mundane, eating, sleeping, breathing, working.

Fantasy is going on a romantic first date that lasts for an entire weekend.

Reality is going out with a guy you met online and finding out that he just wants to have sex with you.

Fantasy is feeling beautiful about your mind, body and soul.

Reality is looking into the mirror and saying, “I hate everything about myself.”

Fantasy is the universe saying “YES!”

Reality is the universe saying, “Not right now… maybe later.”

Fantasy is your phone ringing every night with the person you love on the other end.

Reality is watching Netflix in your underwear, in the dark, while eating Trader Joe’s chocolate cats.

Fantasy is full of love and companionship

Reality is lonely.

Lately, the only time I ever feel alive in the real world is when I’m perfecting my craft: singing, writing music, playing piano, dancing, acting. It’s the only real thing I believe in.

This is why I choose to live most of my life in a fantasy world; to flirt with the line between fantasy and reality until I can find the perfect balance.

Goodnight, I’m off to bed where my dreams can become my reality, if only for a short while.


Shannon Rose Allen



One thought on “Reality vs Fantasy

  1. Shannon,
    I loved this post. You should be a writer. I would read your fantasies or realities any day.

    I also hear you on being lonely and dreaming up these wonderful fantasies. I think the real reality is a little bit of both, but I have to tell you that right now in your life you are living through something pretty wonderful (even though you probably don’t think so) – keep writing about it. You may look back in 10 years and think, “My reality in the past was really my fantasy!” or something like that. I am not being really articulate today …

    I could delve into more details about that, about what the Burberry man turns out to be in 10 years, and how watching Netflix in your underwear may turn into one of the greatest pleasures of your life.


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