Lizette Roman-Johnston

I didn’t want a lot for my birthday this year. Maybe just a Bed Bath & Beyond gift card and a nice note from my parents. But instead, my folks sent me a VR headset, which is awesome, and I’m super grateful, but I kind of wish they at least sent a card, or called, or wrote on my Facebook wall.

When I opened the package, there wasn’t any indication of who sent it. I texted my folks to confirm it was from them, and my dad just replied with a thumbs up emoji. While I was kind of bummed by the lack of warmth — there was still no explicit Happy Birthday — I figured I at least had this cool new device to get my mind off it. So I started to get acquainted with the headset, and it was pretty sick. I learned how to play mini golf and dance with a robot and flip burgers. When I went to the app store to see what other games I could escape into, I saw it: Agape, The Parental Love Simulator.  

At first I was confused, but then I remembered from my Philosophy of Love course that the unconditional love from a parent can be called agape, pronounced ah-GAH-pay. When I saw it cost ten bucks to download, I said ‘I gah PAY for this app?!’ but only my cat could hear me, and Linus doesn’t have a sense of humor.

I’m still going through the tutorials, but I can already feel this sense of warmth come over me every time I open the app. The welcome screen shows two sets of giant arms wrapping themselves around you in 360, and an instrumental music box version of You Are My Sunshine plays. I cry every time. I haven’t explored all of the app yet, but I’ve already canceled my next few therapy sessions. I’ll keep everyone updated on my experience via my YouTube channel.

Photo by Hammer & Tusk on Unsplash


Lizette Roman-Johnston is a bicoastal bisexual currently living in Oakland, California. A 2021 graduate of the Saint Mary’s College MFA program, Lizette writes satire and creative nonfiction (Harry Styles often appears in both). Lizette’s writing has been published in The Daily Drunk, The Sad Girl Review, Rejection Letters, and others. She is also a synth-loving bedroom pop musician under the name rizbot.