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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Flirting with Identity.

Jake was the gay, liberal dad I never knew I had. Late one night I sat staring at his quirky MySpace page on my laptop in a state somewhere between elation and confusion. There he was, standing with two hands resting on the handle of a shovel stuck in the dirt. The crooked smile and deep brown eyes looking back at me from the screen seemed familiar.

Jake's post had been on the donor sibling registry board for a long time but since it said "Jewish Russian" I'd passed over it. He'd donated to the same Park Avenue clinic in which my mother was inseminated, but she had asked for a Christian, Polish donor. Hence, I assumed that's what she got. A day earlier, in a moment of lucidity I wondered how she could be so sure. I mean, what verification occurs to assure the nationality of a donor or his religion if we don't even know his name? I mean, duh.

I surfed further to his online photo album via a link provided on his profile. My hands grew a bit sweaty and my finger vibrated a bit with each click of the mouse.  I wasn't quite sure why I was so nervous. My initial exploration was driven less by the desire to identify him and more by basic voyeuristic curiosity. How could this man be bearing his soul online when I'm afraid to post my picture on a blog where I have poured my heart about a family secret? And there he was, a gay actor.

 I stared, refocused and read again.

A gay actor?

He had been with his "partner" for years. They stood together in picture after picture, sometimes at home, sometimes on vacation.

A sudden fire engine outside my apartment made me jump up and then a split second later I was struck by laughter. Not because he was gay - how cool is that - but at the sheer ridiculousness of this entire situation. From my mother's insemination by some medical intern 30 years ago, to me sitting at a laptop contemplating gentic relation via a frigin MySpace page, this was just total ridiculousness. I could just imagine my Mom reacting to the news about the donor....

"But I ordered a Catholic polish medical intern!"she would say angrily.

"Sorry Ma, looks like things went a little differently," I'd say.

God, I would need a camera when I told her.

I continued to click through pictures with a guilty pleasure. It was like I was exploring myself in some detached way. He had an entire album of family photos. While his recent photos made him look a bit worn out, my resemblance to his younger photos was uncanny.

So I wrote an email to him via MySpace:

"Hi - I saw your post on the Donor Sibling Registry and viewed your pictures.You donated to the same clinic the same year that my mom was insemminated. Here is a photo of myself and if you see a resemblance too, we can move forward from there."

Short and sweet, I thought. Not to weird...very matter of fact. I mean there isn't a book of etiquette out there on this type of stuff. It's funny because I'm normally not so rigid but for some reason I felt a need to be stern, be sterile, be emotionless, but logical. Ironically, so similar to the essence of artificial insemination itself - something so special and life changing done in a methodical medical fashion. I can never forget my mother telling me in the days before sperm freezing, the vile was brought in a brown paper bag to the office from the hospital around the corner. God, can't get more detached than that.

I waited. I checked mail every hour - as if there was any chance that he check email at 11pm at night. I obsessed about it. Was he near a computer, now? How about now? Was he opening it? I tried to visualize him opening my message. Did he have an organized desk, or a cluttered desk? A laptop or a PC? Was he a Mac guy?

The night past without response.

In off moments on busy days I would find myself thinking about my email or Jake. I would practice redirecting my mind to something else. I had perfected this practice when I had gone on that first date with some guy I was interested in but wanted to temper my excitement so I wasn't hurt..keep my options open...guard myself. Yet we weren't dating, this man could be my biological father- weird, I know. But there was a similarity, this was the first step in a potentially important relationship and I felt so vunerable.

And then, I checked my personal mail at work and saw it "Jake2134." I clicked to open it:

"Dear ---,

Fate would have that I checked my yahoo email today, something I rarely do anymore. I went to myspace and was only able to open one of your attachments. You are a very beautiful woman. Can you send the attachments to this email. I check this email daily. I do see a resemblance. The only way to find out is to do a DNA test. The test cost about 130.00 which I would be glad to split the difference. I also have copies of my DNA test.

Truly yours.

To Be Continued.......

UPDATED - This story was continued in two later posts Confronting Identity and Not The Man

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