Welcome to Your Imaginary Boyfriend, Jezebel's new series in which we explore the wild and entirely fabricated world of dating a famous person. As is the risk with most fan fiction, things might get weird and things might get creepy, but the important thing is that we all have a good time. (With that in mind, there will be a Your Imaginary Girlfriend, as well.)
This week's imaginary boyfriend is Newark, New Jersey mayor, future VP candidate and heroic heartthrob Cory Booker.
You're picking at the hole in the crappy upholstered sofa that you've had since college. It's strange you keep it around, really. You have a job and are making money now. There's no reason that you couldn't go out and buy a new couch, maybe even one made out of leather — a real grownup investment — yet for some reason you can't be bothered to do it. Either that or you can't bear to throw away the piece of furniture that's been with you for so long, the piece of furniture that's seen so much your relationship with the man who is crouched in front of you desperately trying to make eye contact. You may not know why you've kept the sofa, but you're glad that you did because, right now, it seems like picking at that ugly hole in that ugly couch is the only thing keeping you anchored to the floor. You always knew this day would come — both of you did — but you never imagined that it would be so damn heartbreaking.
"Cory," you start, finally staring up into the startling blue eyes of the Mayor of Newark.
"No, please," he interrupts. "Let me go first."
You wait as he swallows heavily.
"I'm sorry," he says. "I've been distracted lately. It's not fair to you. It's not fair to us. I promise that I'll try to be better."
You feel your heart shatter into a million pieces and it's a terrible surprise considering that you didn't think your heart could be anymore broken than it was a few seconds ago.
"No," you choke out. The word is thick and raw.
"No?" Cory Booker gets up from his crouched position and stands at full height — in all your years together, you never got over how tall he was — before lowering himself next to you on the sofa.
"We can't do this anymore," you say. It feels like you're going to vomit, but deep down you know that you're doing the right thing. Your entire relationship, as beautiful as it was, was just a distraction from your true callings. His heart belongs to Newark and yours belongs to the elephant sanctuary that you founded in Gabon. "I love you, but we're both needed elsewhere."
His blue eyes sparkle with unshed tears and you know that you're both thinking the same thing — it's ironic that your altruism, the very thing that brought you together, is now pulling you apart. His hand twitches towards yours, but his fingers hesitate. Instead of holding your hand like you so desperately want him to, his fingers settle on his own knee, drumming nervously.
It was five years ago that you met. The two of you had both been rushing into a burning apartment building to save a trapped little boy when your gaze caught through the flames. After returning the child to his grateful mother, you sat side by side in the ambulance, sharing pulls out of the same oxygen mask. When he could finally speak without coughing, Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, turned to you and asked if you were hungry.
"Starved," you said, reaching over to wipe some ash from his brow. You went to a diner where you stayed up until 6am talking.
You never thought you'd meet someone who could match your heroism and kind heart, which is why it seems so crazy to say goodbye now. But that's also the problem — your kindness and heroic nature are making it impossible to be together. You both must go where you're needed. Cory has to rebuild Brick City. You have to save the elephants. There's no way you can devote yourselves to one another when you're both so devoted to your causes.
He smiles sadly, finally reaching over to take your hand in his and your heart fills with relief.
"Maybe someday," he says, kissing you softly on the cheek. He gives your hand a squeeze before standing up to go.
"Yeah, maybe," you whisper to his retreating back.
His shoulders slump as he reaches for the door. Deep down, you both know that this is goodbye.