The Longest Shortest Time

Episode #161: Imaginary Friends & Grown-ups

Last week, we brought you stories from the bizarre and wonderful world of imaginary friends. And as we were putting that episode together, it became increasingly clear that there was someone we really needed to talk to: a guy named Matthew Clowney. If that last name sounds familiar, it’s because Matthew’s actually the little brother of our show’s longtime editor, Peter Clowney. And it turns out, Matthew’s also the king of imaginary friends.

As kids, Matthew and Peter’s world was a menagerie of weird, funny fantasy characters–with layers upon layers of backstory. There were barfing trolls, there were ducks that traveled the world and walked on the bottom of the ocean. There was a critter named Lenrd, who was a championship-level downhill skier and spoke with a French-Caribbean accent. Matthew saved that birthday card above, which he and Lenrd made for his mom.

Matthew’s a grown-up now; he’s a professional photographer who teaches at RISD. And he and his partner, Tracie, are trying to have a kid of their own—a process that’s taking much longer than they’d expected. Surprisingly, Matthew’s ability to imagine up friends has been getting them through a pretty dark time.

Eggy (far left) is the main friend in Matthew and Tracie’s imaginary world — but she has lots of companions

The special ones even get their own stockings

Tune in to hear about how the imaginary friends you invent when you’re little can be great practice for dealing with very real stuff as a grown-up.

Dealing with infertility? This will make your day better.

First off, know you’re not alone. Here are some resources.

And now, in all its splendor, we present: Eggy’s Rap. Just give in to the insidery-ness of it.

Follow Matthew and Tracie

Tracie makes music with the band Cardboard Ox. And it’s beautiful.

Check out Matthew’s photography on Instagram. You can also follow Alice, their cat. Here’s an Alice selfie:

Btw, if you’re following a CAT on Instagram, you should really follow us, too.

Photos: Matthew Clowney