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  • "Man, Sandip sure loves you" my husband remarks, scrolling down my photo postings on Instagram, seeing all of Sandip's *likes.*

    "Well, they are images of nature, peace...all those sorts of things he's into. You know, he's a Tibetan Buddhist" I explain, eyes aglow, looking at the list of followers liking my instagram photos, popping up as notifications in my i-phone. Sandip is in there, along with other strangers across the globe.

    "This guy is Instagramming? In Tibet? Shouldn't he be....meditating or something marginally more important?" my wise one asks.

    "Shh. I don't know. I don't care. Don't ruin it for me. Sandip digs my photos and that's all that matters..."

    And that much is true - Sandip likes most of the flower photos and all of the moodier nature photos, the ones that are a little mysterious and, in some sort of way, seem to tell their own stories. I am glad he likes them, because I like them too.

    "Yeah, see, Sandip gets me, he really does. He's so soulful, clearly attuned to the finer points that people, especially men, typically miss, or dismiss..." I look up, grinning like the devil now, pushing that envelope of ludicrousness just a bit further across the table.

    For all I know, Sandip is really a gold chain laden gangbanger from Detroit, a skeletal skinny-jeaned hipster from Williamsburg, or a pimply faced kid in white sneakers from Minnesota. Who knows? In this world of social media anything goes. We are who we say we are, whoever we project ourselves to be. We'll likely never know these people in our "real" lives, so who's to say what's true, who knows really who is who?

    In my mind, Sandip lives in a state of perfect contemplative silence in a Tibetan monastery while I am living my near perfect, urban-turned-rural organic girl dream in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It is our (perfect, near-perfect) truth, is it not? Gosh, what kind of cockeyed pessimist would you have to be to suggest that you might not believe all that you see and hear on instagram, facebook or even on cowbird, for that matter?


    (At this I can hear my alleged monk friend full-on belly laughing, gleefully.)

    "In the end,” I tell my husband, "Facts are irrelevant, aren't they really? Because if I think Sandip is a Buddhist monk who appreciates my photography and that makes me happy then I am indeed happy! I don't care who he is in real life, the illusion works for me. If our abbreviated interactions leave me with a bounce in my step and a longer wick to have more patience with those two piggy teenaged sons of ours who leave their detritus all over the house, and are seemingly unable to even wash up their own dishes (this said as I am loading up the dishwasher), then it's all good, isn't it? Well isn't it?" I say as he silently ponders.

    "It is!" I insist.

    My insistence is met with his eyeroll, chuckle, and a shake of the head.

    (I did question the Tibetan part and so I clicked over to Sandip's profile page to double check. I was wrong. It's not Tibet, he lives in India. And he's not a monk, he's married. I had him confused with someone else, another IGr, a fellow who practices Tibetan Buddhism in Houston or somewhere like that. Whatever. Nevermind the details...)

    "Sandip loves my pictures and therefore loves me, and I love that Sandip loves me. RIght? That's all that matters and it's all good!" I say pushing the door closed, pressing "start" on the miraculously efficient dishwashing machine, the quiet whir of which always strangely puts me at ease.

    And it is all good. Isn't it? All this *love*? I think so, and my husband dare not challenge me on this. At least not today, not while I am so spritely and alive, temporarily buoyant by the idea of an exotic (maybe) stranger admiring me (sort of) from afar.
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