by Sängerin

There are many different types of closet. There are the ones we keep clothes in and the ones we keep secrets in. And then there are the ones we shut ourself into, certain that we're the only one going through something.

My mother was something of an enigma. She took the proverb -- or should that be curse -- "may you live in interesting times", and made it her motto. I experienced that motto first-hand when she named me "George". Then, Chinese-American enigma that I already was, she decided to immerse me in British children's literature. I remember in particular the names of Nesbit and Ransome, of WE Johns and CS Lewis. Children might laugh at these stories now: critics would certainly find much to criticise. But hidden within these stories of conformity were sparks of individualism, as well as handy hints for surviving life as a member of the human race.

'Never shut yourself in a wardrobe', one character told herself repeatedly -- and the character who forgot this edict almost came to a very bad end. My mother explained that a wardrobe was similar to what we called a closet, and I puzzled over the sage advice given by the book I loved. One of my favourite games as a child was to hide amongst the coats in the closet, the door shut behind me, creating a dark and mysterious world, unseen and therefore boundless. Nevertheless, I took that book's advice, and never again shut myself in a closet, physical or metaphorical.

Until I did it without realising. I was so comfortable in my certain little world and my single, individual experience of pain and exclusion, that I'd closeted myself off from reality. Until the day that Alex Cabot showed me what I'd done.

Alex and I were both fish out of water in the Special Victims Unit. We may all be colleagues, but your average NYPD detective has little time for lawyers and less for the FBI. We were both assigned there around the same time -- Alex just after the Morrison Commission. I was sent there a few months later. Very quickly we established a habit of having coffee together every so often, and became friends through the adversity of dealing with detectives whose views were often blinkered.

I don't know how we got into a discussion of population growth and issues of marriage and child care, and I think Alex was surprised I knew anything about it. She loves the thrust and parry of verbal argument, it's part of her world. I love it less, but discussions like these are the basis of our friendship. And until I made the assumption that one day she would marry and have children -- until I said those words to her face -- it was just one more of those conversations.

She smiled in a way that almost made me think she was puzzled by what I had said. And then she leaned forward. 'George, my friend, your gaydar really isn't functioning.'

It took me a little while, but I got there. And later, when I saw her and Olivia, on opposite sides of Cragen's office, not even looking at each other but totally aware of each other nevertheless, I had to agree.

My gaydar was a long way offline.


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