fig. 5: My Mother, My Father, 1992
© Corinne Whitaker

unfolding: a memoir

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Identity

My parents had come from peasant stock, whole villages of Russians who arrived on the shores of New York City weighed down with superstitions and unable to speak English. Following a time-honored tradition, my Mother and Father were first cousins, blissful of the serpent in the genetic garden.

I who am passionately pro-choice am obsessed by the question: what if they had aborted me?

fig. 6: Deliverance, 1995
© Corinne Whitaker

What is never-having-been, or almost-having-been, like?

fig. 7: Partnership, 1994
© Corinne Whitaker

Maybe it's just as well my Mother died at 47. Maybe it's just as well my Father never knew. Actually their first born was never born. It was strangled by the umbilical cord. How do I know? Because I came next, and the cells whispered to one another. (They don't want you. They mourn for the other one. How dare you live when that one died?) Eventually they got their wish, a male heir, a son. He of the laughing curls and unquestioned right-to-be. (Alfred Stieglitz' brother said, "I am the son of the house, who are you?") I wanted to send him back where he came from. But that's where I came from too. If I hated him, would I have to hate myself?

fig. 8: Forbidden Fruit, 1992
© Corinne Whitaker

I acquired a music teacher. "You will practice an hour by the clock every day. You will use a metronome and follow its rhythm religiously". (I would never follow religion religiously, so why a metronome? Religion meant a God that never had his period, and never bought an inflatable bra). My music teacher rapped me on the knuckles when I didn't practice enough. Would God rap me on the knuckles, or worse, for never being what anybody wanted?

fig. 9: In Limbo, 1993
© Corinne Whitaker


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Identity

All text and images © Corinne Whitaker.