My infatuation with Tales of the City didn’t die with the end of the miniseries…but my journey of self-exploration stagnated. Without role models and characters to follow I couldn’t put into words what I was feeling, I couldn’t understand why I was feeling the way I was. Without an understanding or words to use how can one even talk about the world in which they exist.
Who would have know that in 1995 I would find myself in a new home, with new outlets, with parents who were literary and knowledgeable and with a library directly across the road from home. The day I picked up my library card was the day a new life began. I explored the aisles as if I were a kid in candy store…a candy store where everything was within reach and it was all free! Books about cities of which I had never heard, about plants that grew in far off places, about sciences that I can only now start to understand, about romances—fake and real, and about sex and sexuality. They grouped, organized, coded, and placed just so for easy view and others purposely placed to conceal. It was in the concealed section where I stumbled across “Tales of the City” in paperback form…my heart jumped. They existed in paper and not just on screen—my Beauchamp was back.
My eyes grew wider as I noticed “Tales of the City” didn’t sit alone on the shelf. That day I realized there was “More Tales of the City,” “Further Tales of the City,” “Babycakes,” and “Significant Others”—I scooped them all up and ran to check them out. After reaching the checkout counter I was told that juvenile members of the library were only allowed to checkout two books at a time and I would need to select which ones I wanted. In my mind I yearned to be complete again, to feel some sense of personal progression and I was deeply saddened that I couldn’t have them all! It took me moment to realize that the books would still be there whenever I returned to the library; I acquiesced and selected the first two books in series. I left the library, ran home and locked myself away in my room.
The next morning I emerged and 28 Barbary Lane was all that I had remembered and more. The story line coalesced in a fashion that the miniseries only seemed to gently stroke. “More Tales of the City” took me on my first cruise—and as I write this—my only cruise. This new book introduced me to words I never heard and ideas that seemed unfathomable: secret societies, men having sex, men who use to be women and life found in a brothel. As I ambled down the stairs to family breakfast I thought I these ideas and feelings explored in my books could never be shared…and how would I explain why I looked like I had not slept at all. No one seemed to care.
For the next month Armistead Maupin was my saving grace. He helped me escape from my mother’s passing, he brought some feeling of “it’s ok” to my existence and he gave me some new friends. I dreaded what I would do after I finished all of the books. I feared not knowing, I was concerned that I would find myself searching for answers about who I was and why I didn’t fully believe I was like Mouse or his boyfriends… But that last book was far off and I still had time–my time Beauchamp Day.