Life as a Twin
When were were children, friends would ask “What’s it like to be a twin?” And we would answer, “What’s it like NOT to be a twin?” For us, this is our reality, and we can’t imagine life any other way.
Even though we’ve been twins forever, literally, and have contemplated this question ever since we were conscious of our twinness, (is that a word?) this has always been a hard question to answer.
At the core is the fact that God created us with a built-in best friend. When we were babies our parents tried to put us in separate cribs. That didn’t work. We would cry and reach our arms through the slats wanting to be closer. One day they came in to find one of us had climbed out and back into the other twin’s crib. (It was probably Jodie; she’s the more adventurous one!)
This was one of many thwarted attempts of my mother’s to try to separate us. She was afraid we wouldn’t develop our own independent identities. It was hard to explain to her that being twins was just part of that identity. Regardless of her efforts we did whatever we could to embrace our union, much to her chagrin. We simply loved (and excelled at) all the same things. We both wanted to do gymnastics, we both wanted to be cheerleaders, we both wanted to learn to play the violin. The list was endless, and our list of similar likes and dislikes was just as endless.
Growing up as identical twins was like being mini celebrities. We looked an awful lot alike and it did two things…..
- It created quite a stir everywhere we went, and…
- It annoyed us to no end when even our closest friends and relatives couldn’t tell us apart!!
Perks of being a twin
There are certain perks of being a twin, and we’ve always considered it our responsibility to take advantage of these perks….in the name of twins everywhere.
Perk #1. Fooling people
This had far reaching opportunities and situations so I’ll mention just a couple of the best examples.
April Fool’s Day, 4th grade, Mrs. Tobin and Mrs. Durlim’s classes. It was fun. The teacher knew but didn’t let on. The students knew (but didn’t think the teachers knew) so they didn’t let on. It was a charade that taught us that everyone actually could tell the difference, but most people just didn’t take the time to figure it out.
This became one of our favorite twin perks 🙂 This worked in our favor, as it allowed us to “double book” weekends! If the other was interested we would initiate a kind of “tag team” approach. The boys usually couldn’t tell the difference so no one really seemed to mind.
This was all fun and games when we were young, but our best “twin switch” story and the grand finale of them all was the night Julie met her husband.
The Grand Finale
It was October 10, 1988, and it was Jodie’s first night in Chicago. She had just arrived to join Julie in their first post-college apartment together. Julie had a date set for that night with a boyfriend she had seen a couple of times but called to cancel when she found out Jodie was arriving.
Instead of canceling, however, Greg asked if we could make it a double date as his friend was interested in coming too. So the two couples headed out on the town stopping at several different night clubs. It was about 1:00 am or so when we excused ourselves to the ladies’ room.
We didn’t change clothes or exactly try to fool them. We figured we were in a better position to make sure the right person was with the right person. They hardly knew us and could barely tell us apart. Nothing was ever said. Not until 10 years later did we find out what the guys had thought at that moment. All we knew was Julie and Fred were meant to be together, and 28 years later the swap to end all swaps has passed the test of time.
Perk #2: Twin Telepathy
Twins have a way of communicating like no one else. Our husbands complain that we speak in ½ sentences, out of context, and are constantly assuming that they can simply fill in the blanks! Oops!
Many twins develop a “twin speak” or secret language when they are young. We’re not really sure if we did this, but we did have our own unique experience learning our first foreign language, French. We became obsessed with wanting to learn how to speak fluent.
At college we often met for lunch. We would say, “Ok, for the duration of the lunch we’re only going to speak French.” There is nothing unusual or unique about this except for the fact that we really didn’t have the grammatical skills to do this yet. At the end of our sophomore year we decided to apply for a year study abroad program in France. After our interviews the team of professors asked Julie and me back in together. They explained that we had created a very unique pattern of grammatical errors, essentially creating our very own “version” of French!
Luckily we were accepted into the program and as predicted, we were able to correct the bad habits as soon as we started living in France.
Best Twin Telepathy Story
We were 7 years old. We did most everything together, but on this rare spring day found ourselves playing separately. Julie was invited to a friend’s house and Jodie was playing with neighborhood friends, climbing trees down the street from home. Suddenly, in the middle of the play date Julie got a panicky feeling, dropped what she was doing, jumped on her bike and raced home with a feeling of unexplainable desperation. Something was wrong with Jodie.
At that very moment, on a dare Jodie tried a gymnastics move in the tree. A failed attempt landed her head first in the middle of the street, a fall of about 15 feet. Embarrassed she brushed off her hands and rode her bike home.
Meanwhile, Julie arrived home and was frantically searching all over the house for Jodie, whom she eventually found curled up on the bed. Both Jodie’s arms were broken. Julie never told Jodie about the “feeling” that she had gotten that had so clearly and deliberately directed her to search out her sister. At that young age it hadn’t made much sense to her, but as she got older she understood the magnitude of what she had felt!
New York City, “Double Mint” commercial audition. The opportunity presented itself, and we were all in! (This should be on every twin’s ‘must do’ list!) Unfortunately, we didn’t get the gig, but it was still an experience to remember. We were in high school at the time. The experience taught us a lot.
• Planning for the audition
As we tried to prepare for the day, how to wear our hair, do our make-up, and dress, we quickly realized how different we had become, even if these were small details. Our journey to become individuals had already begun.
• Walking down the streets of Manhattan
We watched heads turn at every moment and realized that to the outside world we would always appear much more similar than we were different. Getting a taste of our own medicine we arrived at the casting studio where we met about 10 other sets of twins. Introducing ourselves around the world it was an experience we never forgot! Meeting each pair felt like shaking the same person’s hand twice! We blinked our eyes; it was like seeing double, and for once we sampled what it was like for others to meet us.
What is it like to be an Identical twin?
• It’s never feeling completely whole without the other.
• There is someone who knows you as well as you know yourself.
• And someone who loves you more than themselves.
• It’s the feeling of never being completely alone; there’s always someone on your side.
• Being a twin doesn’t feel like there is another “you.” Instead it feels like together we make one; that we complement and complete each other. We are the Yin to each other’s Yang!
• It’s having a teammate for life. What a blessing!