I don’t know how spoilery this will get, but consider yourself warned: here there may be spoilers.
So people who review Going Home almost always mention D and Teddy. Often by name. And they either love them or hate them. (Whoa, the hate. And I’m not complaining. I’m in awe.) When I considered D and Teddy’s arc, I felt a pretty serious responsibility.
I don’t consider myself an activist writer. Certainly writing is a form of activism, and it’s one I sometimes engage in, but I’d definitely sacrifice all higher intentions for a good line or a moment of delicious plot tension.
Still. Since I knew at least a few folks who loved Going Home would pick up Home Free, this was, in some ways, the first book I wrote knowing someone would read it. (I figured folks would pick up The Boyfriends Tie the Knot, which I’d finished right before starting Home Free. But no one was exactly writing “can’t wait for the next one” in their reviews for Roller Coasters, so it was different.)
I wanted it to be good. But I also wanted it to hold some truths, some threads of redemption. D’s a hot mess in a lot of ways, and I didn’t want there to be some big resolution where she suddenly looks in the mirror and loves herself, bathed in the glow of a good man. Teddy’s less of a hot mess and more of a…settled mess. He’s happy. Enough. And he’s come a long ways since his own period of personal darkness, but he’s not quite fulfilled.
I also took ruthless advantage of the slight “alternate reality” lens in these books to erase some of the more irritating parts of my culture’s (and my community’s) intense, forceful identity politics. Homophobia exists, but isn’t codified into law or pounded on by religion. Religion exists, but has a significantly smaller influence on the daily lives of people who aren’t religious. Transphobia exists in a stronger way than homophobia, but it’s still more of a personal thing, and in the absence of legal assaults, transpride doesn’t really get a foot in the door.
Teddy never identifies as anything but a man. That was, y’know, intentional.
So the backbone of this story has a lot of conscious, cerebral junk going for it. The trick was to write a story where you couldn’t actually see all that, because you were busy wondering what was gonna happen next.
I don’t know if it succeeds on that level, but I do know I love this book. I love this story. I love both Teddy and D, and I feel good about their story. If you also love Teddy and D, let me point you in the direction of the missing scene “D and Teddy’s Wedding (The Real One)”. Because one of my favorite things about the two of them is that they don’t always skew the way you think they will. Everyone thinks D’s gonna freak out before their wedding, but that’s not quite how it goes down.
For the comments: what’s your favorite moment between D and Teddy, any story? Share with the class!