""I'm not going to tell you much more of the case, Doctor... [I]f I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all."
"I shall never do that," I answered; "you have brought detection as near an exact science as it will ever be brought in this world."
My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words, and the earnest way in which I uttered them. I had already observed that he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet
Fan fiction and its queer subset, slash fiction, is something that I've never really explored; I think there are a few reasons for that, most importantly the fact that, frankly, I've just never spent all that much time looking at stuff other people put up on the internet. I read my friends' blogs, I check my email rather incessantly, but I don't generally watch a lot of videos on YouTube (although OMG, this Kirk/Spock example won me over quite a bit) or, until recently, read stories about the romantic escapades of Sam and Frodo or Harry and Draco or, most importantly for my purposes, Holmes and Watson. But some things are just too ripe for the picking, and during my recent queer re-reading of Conan Doyle he sometimes seems like he's almost setting himself up, circa the late nineteenth century, for a career in poorly veiled homoeroticism. The first time Watson "ejaculated" a statement while speaking to Holmes, I nearly choked.
There are, however, reasons larger than the adolescent glee I take in the language of 1890s London behind my interest in the original tales of Holmes and Watson, and those reasons are part of what I've been trying and failing to articulate these last few weeks. I simply haven't been able to figure out how to begin. It feels like coming out all over again, and that (among other things) is complicated. But I'll attempt to take a cue from Holmes and reduce this particular series of events down to an inevitable logic: The Case of the Magical Unicorn, as it were.
I've said a few times already that 2009 has been the best year I've ever had, but it's also been one of the most unexpected. The overarching theme has been Personal Growth; I've learned about sex and gender and jealousy and the lack thereof while sitting in a sex toy store, about dating and being single and the importance of personal choice from lengthy discussions with friends and lovers, about how to access and utilize and value my quiet nature even as I begin, when I desire, to overcome it. I've learned some things about who exactly I am and how that relates to who I want to be, and I think I'm increasingly able to see the bridge between what I hope are ever-more-similar selves. I've gained an appreciation for the value of a good adventure when approached from the right angle. None of these trajectories are anywhere close to being over yet, but I feel like even the distance I've covered has so fundamentally changed me that I can never be the person I was before. In for a penny, in for a pound, and if I get to keep feeling the radical joy that I've been experiencing on this path I'm perfectly willing to follow it to whatever conclusion it may have.
I spent a fair amount of the year consciously being single, steadfastly insisting to friends that I needed to be alone to keep learning the things I was learning, to not be distracted by love, to put my energy into things other than dating websites or awkward job-interview-style coffee dates with relative strangers. The more time I spent being uncoupled, the stronger and more alive and better about myself I felt, and I was not particularly lonely most of the time. I was happy with and by myself. And while I was in this good alone space, I got to watch a lot of different types of relationships happening all around me: straight weddings, queer pairings, non-committed semi-casual longer-term connections, polyamorous strings of people, casual encounters, friends-turned-family. It was heartening and enlightening, seeing all of these varying ways to be and how many different ways it was possible to be happy in, and it helped me to understand that there are more options available than just the standard of a monogamous long-term relationship. Nothing against those, I promise, but it's nice to know that there are as many possibilities open to me as I can conceive of for love and affection and connection.
So what does this have to do with Holmes and Watson?
Simply put, I was happy, and eventually I let myself open up again to the possibility of liking people in a non-friend way again, and then I did like someone, and now there are two someones. I fell hard a few months ago for somebody in an open relationship and as of a few weeks ago I'm starting to be incorporated into the fabric of their framework, most hopefully in a way that preserves the autonomy of and individual connections between all involved parties. I'm nervous and excited and optimistic, and my happiness mostly feels smooth and slow instead of sparkly and crackling and actually I think that's a good thing. In many ways, this seems like the logical conclusion to this year: of course I'd end up as part of a queer triad, trio skating in Millennium Park and being cute as hell, because what else could possibly happen? It's a sort of leap of faith, I'll admit, but for all my caution I've never been all that good at resisting what seems right and this feels, in its own unique way, like it might be the best thing that's happened to me in a while. We refer to it occasionally as the magical unicorn of relationships: three incredibly nerdy and kind and rational people, all with different strengths and weaknesses and personalities, who seem to have the potential to form a subversive and excessive unit that is beneficial for everybody involved.
Before I came on the scene my two partners had already been calling each other Holmes and Watson in true dorky slashfic fan tradition, and for the sake of continuing metaphor I have been deemed some sort of combination of Mary (Watson's wife) and Irene Adler (a crossdressing singer with a sharp set of wits who appears in the short story A Scandal in Bohemia) which seems about right. One of the most personally important things I've learned this year is that there are an infinite number of ways to be queer, to resist assimilation and be who you want to be instead of who you are supposed to be; while I never expected that in my own life that would end up manifesting itself in terms of either handholding with a boy or slashfic metaphors, I'm rolling with it. And so, with an attitude of both cautious optimism and perhaps entirely incautious enthusiasm, here I go. Where, exactly, is uncertain, but I think it will be someplace good.