It’s been about seven years since I first “met” you through stolen glimpses from Mom’s phone. Your passport photo was grainy, but I could read the words. Name: June. Chinese name: Yang Xue Jun. But I knew they called you “Xiao Xue” for short— “Little Snow.” I always thought it was funny, your little contrast of names, projecting such opposing images that I could never figure you out. Which one were you? The summer or the snow?
You know as much about me, I guess. Dad told you our names. I bet he showed you our pictures. But I really want to know, was your time together filled with laughter and fun? Did he share with you his cheesy jokes, or his love of green tea? I hope he did, and that you savored those moments. Because even though he chose us in the end, it feels like he left some of that light-heartedness behind, and I want to know that it still exists, if only in our memories. I don’t doubt that he loved you, in case you ever wonder about these things; I know because I watched him risk his family, give up his half of the bed, betray his loving wife, all for you. He even slept in the bathtub once, you know, because there was only one bed in the hotel, and if that’s not proof enough, he once nearly hurt Grandma’s arm trying to get away from us. Toward you.
And now he’s back, leaving you a shadow of the past, a mistake. Mom has (mostly) forgiven him, and I think I’m starting to also. But sometimes, during midnight Wii tournaments, or particularly good family dinners, in the midst of the brightness and cheer, I find myself wondering about you. Your name is June. You were my father’s mistress. But who are you beyond that? What’s your favorite color? What music do you listen to? Who do you love? Who did you love?
They say adultery is a sin, but were you the accomplice or the victim? You and I are like strangers at the supermarket, a quick convergence then divergence, destined never to know anything more than what we saw. Perhaps you snickered picking up that phone call from Mom, listening to her demand for her husband back. Perhaps you took pleasure in murmuring a sweet “I love you” to Dad, knowing you were on speaker phone, knowing his three children were on the car. Or perhaps you didn’t. Twenty-something years old and financially dependent on a married man, were you terrified the moment you realized it was his wife calling? Were you too deeply in love to care?
I turn eighteen in three months, and with so much to say goodbye to, I think I’ll leave you with an introduction instead:
“My name is Ana. I’m a girl who’s been deeply wounded by her father’s choices, and a daughter
who loves her family beyond anything else. I’m a sister, a friend, a writer. I’m an almost-adult,
with a half-blank page in her narrative, who has finally realized that it’s not a betrayal to my
mom or myself to say that I don’t hate you.”
Faith is a funny thing, isn’t it? You can date someone for seven years and still get hurt, just like you can “meet” someone for a moment and hate them for the next seven years. I suppose it’s fitting, then, that I end it now, seven years later, with this letter.
June; here’s to the scars that become tattoos, and the stories we tell with them. I wish you a lifetime of happiness.