a letter;
mailed february twenty-seventh, 2016.

Dear Alexander,

I was born at the tail end of December, but I didn’t know a white Christmas until I was fourteen years old. I adore grape bubblegum, but I can’t stand the taste and texture of the real thing. I’ve never broken a bone, but I’ve fallen out of too many trees to count – I’ve never let it keep me from climbing again though. I am flawed and imperfect, but I still push myself to practice self-love and self-acceptance despite how difficult it is (especially on Monday mornings). I am as klutzy as a wildebeest, but I somehow managed to master sirsa padasana pose without snapping my spine. I deeply believe that a life lived without butter and sugar is no life at all and, even though I’m not that good at it, baking is my favorite kind of stress relief.

It has taken me four weeks to begin this letter. I suppose nerves make me procrastinate. As I’m sure you can tell, I received your package – or should I say, packages. Gage and Cole deposited theirs on my doorstep. They are still processing. It will take them some time, but I hope they will eventually come around. I believe in honesty, so I feel it’s only fair to disclose that to you. I, however, am ready - I guess that's probably obvious considering the detective skills I had to tap into to in order to find a way to contact you. And I think you’re ready too - despite your lack of a return address on your package. But even so, I’m unsure of what to say, how to begin, how to introduce myself to someone that I am so intimately related to by blood and yet such a stranger to in reality. However, I’ve always believed that when hesitation paralyzes you, it’s best to just throw yourself full throttle and take the leap – literally and figuratively. (Surprised I haven’t broken any bones yet? Yeah, so am I.) Alright. This is it. Here’s to leaping.

I was two years old when our father killed himself. Not old enough to retain memory of him from our briefly shared time together, of course, but as I grew I felt his absence intensely regardless. Unsurprisingly, the effects were wide ranging. (I won’t bog this down with the nitty gritty.) Anyway. As a coping mechanism, I put him on a shelf – I boxed up the memories shared with me by family members, I refused to view his photographs, I resented the craving for a father-daughter relationship because of its bitter impossibility, and I pushed him to the farthest corner of my mind for many years. Decades, in fact. Try as I may to deny it, it hurt me more deeply to pretend as though I didn’t care. A friend suggested therapy – a suggestion that I will be eternally grateful for receiving for the rest of my days. Therapy helped me to crack open the parts of my heart and mind that I had long ago cemented over in an angst ridden attempt to erase our father’s influence (or lack thereof) upon my life. I confronted, reacted, reflected, and eventually began my journey to come to peace with it all. I’m very much still on that journey, and I have my good days and my bad days. Despite the bad days, throughout the process I’ve grown curious about him. I think that’s something you can empathize with, as I don’t think you’d have reached out to me otherwise. In turn, I’m curious about you. You’re a part of him. You’re a part of me too. I want to know you. I hope you want to know me too.

My name is Christina Leigh. I grew up in the heart of Texas, but these days I call the Upper West Side home. I’m 27 years old. I manage an art gallery by day and sculpt by night. (Porcelain is my medium of choice.) My favorite color is pink. I’m a cat person. My caffeine addiction is my greatest vice. And I’m your sister.

Your turn.

- Christina