unfolding: a memoir

iv
Identity

Looking back, I realized that I lived in a not-now-dear town, with up so many restrictions down. It was no and not-good-enough, you'll never make it and you can't. It was why aren't you? It was be seen and not heard, glide so silently past that your moving does not even rustle the molecules in the air. It was the toxic silence of femaleness. Girls aren't wanted. Jews aren't wanted. Spontaneity is suspect. Gas chambers for your birthright. Glass chambers to silence your questions. I lived in a glass box, while everyone else spoke a language I did not understand. When what you are is never good enough. When who you are is a threat. When the juices of life are squeezed out of you at every breath. Then your soul bleeds continually. And you view the world with eyes that know pain. And you hide where no one will find you. The oceans need no teaspoon to validate themselves. Why did I?

fig. 17: Tough Guy, 1995
© Corinne Whitaker

It was clear that I had to excel, but I couldn't have a career. I could have a husband. His likeness had been decided centuries before. Solid. Dependable. From a good family (that meant his family had money). That's what they said.

Stodgy. Boring. Someday he'll smoke a cigar and strut like a bantam rooster. That's what I felt.

fig. 18: My Echo, My Shadow, 1997
© Corinne Whitaker

Preferably older, so they'd feel comfortable with him. He should make lots of money, so they can envy him and borrow from him. He should drop dead. That's what I thought. At least I was luckier than my Aunt Frances, who met her husband for the first time at the altar. The matchmaker had been paid a lot of money to make her miserable.


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Identity

All text and images © Corinne Whitaker.