The Desire For An Origin
By: Rachael Rigsbee
I was stationed in Subic Bay, Philippines, for several months. I was accompanied by my mother. Or rather, I was inside her at the time.
My mother, Rose Rigsbee, was stationed in Subic Bay from 1981-1983. During that time, she was newly married. Her husband was also active navy, but he was stationed in California. Six months into the marriage, my mother had a one-night stand with a man she'd known for a short time. This man was also married, and became my biological father. Needless to say, my mother's husband was not happy to hear this news. My mother and he had unsuccessfully attempted pregnancy many months before my mother was stationed in the Philippines. On the other side, my biological father's wife was livid. When she'd discovered what had happened, she'd demanded to keep me and raise me herself. My mother wouldn't allow it; she flew back to the US and gave birth to me there.
Now that I am older, I desire an origin. I have never met my father. I haven't seen pictures, either. It's frustrating to harbor a missing link to my ancestry. Most people take their lineage for granted, but I view it as a treasure.
The man who raised me (my mother's husband at the time she had the affair) has been very generous. He ensured that all of my basic needs were met, however, I seek a familial foundation. I want to gain a firmer grasp on the components that comprise me; I often wonder if my musical skill stems from my biological father. I'd also like to know about the possible diseases in my family, and whether I have any half-sisters and brothers somewhere in the world. I am not a lone bacterium seeking a host, and family is essential to me.
It is unsettling to see a void where a parent would otherwise be. This is a question that no one else can answer but him--my father--whomever he is, wherever he is. I cannot imagine how confusing and terrifying it must be for children who haven't met both of their parents; what an identity crisis that must be. Having no father, it feels like half of me is missing. Half of my reflection is strange to me, undefinable, and unanswered. What remains of me (my mother's features) is not the full picture. Without a photograph, I try to makeshift-shape his appearance by contrasting my mother's face with my own face. I erase my mother's features from my face and assume that whatever remains must be my father. But I don't know this for fact; it's all speculation. The silence in response to these questions wounds me.
On this website, I read stories of prostitution and affairs. I read a story from a wife who felt compelled to protect her guilty husband, a warning about STDs, and hearts in disrepair. But one vital aspect has been altogether forgotten: the resulting births from these sexcapades have real consequences. The children have to live with this for the rest of their lives, and it certainly isn't a respectable way to begin life. Unpredictability has its time and place, and it is unacceptable to be reckless with a human life. It is blatant that my parents had no consideration whatsoever to the repercussions of their actions.
The beginning of my life was not romantic, intended, or planned. Regardless, I hold onto this fragmented story because it's my only connection, however small, to my father.