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Twin times

Leila Green | Friday, November 30, 2012

People always ask me, “How does it feel to be a twin?” The response I would like to give?
“How does it feel to be a person?”
The response I actually give? “It’s pretty cool.”
Having an identical twin prompts tons of questions ranging from the logical to the outright foolish. My sister and I receive questions regarding simple things like logistics: “Do you share a room?” to the metaphysical: “What is your twin thinking right now?” These questions have also come up:
Who’s older? Do you guys fist fight? Who wins? If I punch her, will you feel it? Who’s fatter? Will your kids be twins? Have you guys dated twins? Can I take you and your sister to the dance with me? Do you have the same dad? Same mom? How do your parents tell you apart? How do you guys tell each other apart?
A woman once broke out into tears as we approached her because she had a twin phobia. Some family members can’t tell us apart. On our 13th birthday, my parents confessed to us that we were switched at birth. “Don’t worry,” they said, “Just switch names from now on.” Moments later, I found out they were kidding. It was the strangest three minutes of my life.
Sometimes I swear I see people’s eyes searching for the scar from our de-conjoining surgery. If you must know, it is on my left, and her right, hip. I’m kidding. But we have done the “conjoined-twin” thing. Being twins and wearing the same color shirt is really conducive to pretending like you’re conjoined twins. That was a fun day.
While walking around campus, I get random smiles and waves from strangers. I used to think people at Notre Dame were just really friendly, but no, they just know my sister and think I am her. The same thing happens on the opposite end: people who confront me asking why I didn’t say hello. My answer? “That wasn’t me, that was my twin sister!” It’s really convincing.
Being a twin is oddly entertaining. When we’re in public I always wonder why people are staring at me. Then I remember they’re not staring at me, but us. Getting stared at is definitely more uncomfortable than ego boosting and is also extremely noticeable. So is unsolicited picture-taking.
We used to switch classes back in high school. It was fun for the first ten minutes, then the fun faded as we realized that we still had to take notes and listen for each other.
For a very awkward period in our lives we wore matching clothes. We don’t match anymore because, well, that would be extremely weird. Although admittedly, we did go through a phase where we tried to resurrect the matching thing, only to discover that we don’t own any identical clothing.
I think the dynamic of each twin relationship varies. I’ve encountered identical twins that want nothing to do with each other and barely make eye contact. I’ve also encountered twins who cannot be weaned off each other. It is interesting how two people who’ve lived pretty much the same life can turn out so different. My sister and I have similar personalities and interests. Our majors are different and we are involved in different activities, but for some reason, our paths are always intertwined.
Last year we stopped speaking to each other over a petty disagreement. During that silent week, I ran into her in every nook and cranny of campus. Before that incident, we saw each other daily and seldom randomly came across each other. Eventually, it became too awkward so we started speaking again, but I couldn’t help but wonder why that happened. Are we really meant to be together? My hope is we’ll always be in relatively close proximity to each other; otherwise I couldn’t really borrow her clothes.
The longest we’ve ever been apart is eight weeks. We both did a Summer Service Learning Project and they ran congruently. I went to New Jersey and she stayed in South Bend. We didn’t go a day without talking to each other and I’m sure I developed a mild case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from texting nonstop. I was nervous about being separated for so long. Before the SSLP, our longest separation was only four days. However, I managed. We gained more independence and realized that we aren’t just “the twins,” but two autonomous individuals. The distance really helped us grow closer and our disputes fell to a new low: a near 75 percent decrease, excluding all texting arguments.
Being a twin has many more pros than cons. I have an automatic life-long friend, another wardrobe and an endless supply of inside jokes. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
 
Leila Green is a sophomore English major and Portuguese minor. She is also the coordinator of YES, a youth group for at-risk kids in South Bend. If you would like to get involved, she can be reached at lgreen2@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.