When our parents changed our diapers, we would scream, “Lemme see it! Lemme see it!” with utter excitement at seeing them. My mother told us we used to kick and punch each other in her stomach. We’ve been fighting since before day one.
My identical twin sister, Gabbie, and I are 30 minutes apart. I’m the “older” one, and I never let her forget it.
It all started at W.E. Cherry Elementary. When it came time for our parents to enter us into the public school system, they decided to split us up in our classes. One day on our 10-minute bus trip to school, I told her to sneak out and come to my classroom at a specific time because I knew that was game time. All day I looked at the clock waiting for her to come in and play with me. When game time rolled around, my twin walked in and disguised herself with all the other toddling children lugging their toys around.
In our kindergarten worlds, anything aside from playing games was background noise and unimportant. That ended quickly when Gabbie’s teacher called mine in a panic and asked if she’d seen the missing daredevil. They figured the only place she could be was with me.
My twin still guilt-trips me into doing things for her by reminding me of the time I got her put in timeout for sneaking into my class in elementary school. But that’s not the point. The point is we have always been together, even when we weren’t supposed to be. The first place to search for her was with me, and now that is no longer true.
As the sun began to set on our senior year of high school, we were forced to make a decision. Would we apply to the same colleges? What would we do if one got in to their dream school and the other didn’t? Would our mental and emotional sanity remain if we split up for the first time? How will we know who we are as individuals when being a pair had been such a major influence on our identities?
On February 12, 2016 we got answers to these questions. I was accepted to attend the University of Florida. My twin planned to attend the University of North Florida. My family and I celebrated our achievements, but it was a celebration that had no precedent for Gabbie and me. They were individual, separate celebrations for two futures that had only ever been celebrated in the past at the same time for the same accomplishments.
Throughout our schooling, we were always compared. And through talking with other twins, it is confirmed that your twin is your best friend and biggest rival. For the first time, we understood we would not be compared. We would not be known as the twins. Most of my friends now, even in my second year of college, have not met the person who I’ve shared my entire life with.
It has been two years since I’ve lived with my twin. Although we’re only an hour and a half apart, it seems like a world apart when we used to share the same room, and sometimes even the same bed. But here is what I’ve learned from my new sense of identity:
1. I’m not afraid to do things alone anymore.
I go to plays alone, I spend time outdoors by myself and have learned to actually enjoy a previously unknown solitude.
2. Twins do not have to be clones.
Most people are surprised at the fact that we are not as “close” as other twins, and that is perfectly fine.
3. Distance can negatively or positively affect relationships, but that’s up to you.
Being away from my twin has made me appreciate our sisterhood and family infinitely more than I did before.
Although things are different for us now, I wouldn’t change my decision. No matter how much time we spend apart, we will still always show up accidentally matching.