It's odd, or maybe it isn't, to be using one's own face as a claim to identity. Photographs are crucial to every story I read of late-identified parentage. In my slow correspondence with William Taylor's sister, they have been crucial currency; she told me, a few weeks ago, that the new headshot on my work page (she can Google too of course), showed more potential family resemblance than anything I'd sent her.
So I've been opening up the boxes that followed me home after people died, looking for pictures. I finally found some in a box from Ray's New York apartment: my class pictures, second to sixth grades, and an album of early childhood pictures that my mother made to give to Ray for Christmas 1977.
During the summer of 1976, her parents lost their house in the suburbs and moved into an apartment. Annajane took me and moved to a tenement on East 14th Street; bathtub in the living room, bedroom the size of a closet with a window to a fetid airshaft. She used Ray's address, on Jane Street, to get me into P.S. 41. When she decompensated, in November 1976, she signed custody of me over to Ray. By Christmas 1977 she would have been living with her parents in their little apartment; she was in and out of hospitals, I believe, for the next couple of years.
Every picture is taped into the album. Four pieces of grimy Scotch tape (I think the fuzz dates to installation; the roach body parts and shit are the result of decades in Ray's apartment). Most of the pictures we remounted from elsewhere; they are wrinkled, torn, creased. There are heavy fingerprints over my face in many of the pictures.
A small picture of the two of us had been taped over the dedication.
When I removed the picture:
Ray wasn't my father. Sometimes she told me he was. I guess sometimes she told him he was, too, including when she gave me to him. But the bloodtypes don't work (she was O, he was O, but I'm B -- and I noticed that, when we tested in high school). The eye colors are unlikely (pale grey, spectral hazel, and dark brown). He never believed anything she said, anyway; and now there's a huge mass of DNA evidence in favor of some other guy, the one with the same name as she'd told me, and her mother, occasionally.
How did the picture get taped over? She gave Ray the album -- and didn't take it back.