Columns

One Half of a Whole

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Photo by Karen La

by Dominique Lie

When my mother tells us about how she found out she was having twins, it seems almost make-believe.

In an enigmatic tone, she tells us of her dream that depicted two children, days before confirming her suspicions at her appointment with the obstetrician.

Following our birth, many of our family friends would look at my mother with pity and call us “Double Trouble.” Our mother would laugh and smile while replying, “No, it’s double the blessings.”

There seem to be a lot of questions about children of multiple births. Whether it is the fascinating tales of long-lost twins who reunite, separated twins leading parallel lives, or the unique genetic relationship, most people are curious and intrigued by the idea of twins. This curiosity often attracts interesting receptions when we introduce ourselves as twins.

After initial shock, first reactions tend to be denial (that we are even related) or the frequently asked question: “Can you read each other’s minds?”

We can’t. At least, not in the telepathic way most people imply when asking the question. However, there are times we find our thoughts and steps in synchrony.

In class, we’ll find ourselves yelling out our ideas exactly at the same time with insane precision. Two voices shouting out “Once Upon a Time,” when thinking of “O” ideas for a project about our interests, or the realization that we were both thinking of the same memory of our father tricking us when tasting our mother’s cooking. 

However, despite rare occasions of synchronicity and understanding, our personalities are the complete antithesis of each other. When thinking of our differences, several things come to mind:

Jumping off the bed and flying into our father’s arms, Dorothy was the self-proclaimed princess of the entire land. But, when my turn came to leap into the air, it was not as a princess, but as Dorothy’s reluctant prince, forced to play the supporting role.

Now, when I hear flies buzzing around the house or spiders lurking at the corner of my bed, I call upon my twin to vanquish them for me.

A visit to the doctor’s office always brings a tumult of kicking and screaming from Dorothy.

The very thought of having blood drawn or getting a vaccine leaves her paralyzed with fear. Her reluctance and distress leads me to volunteer to go first and alleviate her suffering.

Now, when we’re learning to drive, Dorothy confidently veers too far right attempting to avoid passing cars on her left, causing my father to clutch the door handle with fear for his life. My own turn at the wheel involved an hour-long practice in a large parking lot before being forced to drive on to a commercial road by an approaching security guard. 

My father had no qualms about my driving ability, but my own anxiety and nerves won as I forced him to let me pull over, ending with a scratched bumper.

It has been a long-running joke between my sister and me that she was the “buy one get one free” deal of our lives (she was born a minute after me), but as we celebrate each birthday I realize that we have grown to complement each other and believe our personalities fit in a perfect balance.

While arguing about trivial subjects such as T-shirt colors or where to dine out, our preferences often sit at opposite ends of the spectrum, and we meet at a comfortable compromise.

When I am courageous and unwavering and she is frightened, I will stand guard as her steadfast sister. Likewise, she will fight off my terrors and fears when I come upon unwanted insects.

With this being our last year as high school students, I’m confronted by the reality that we will likely be separating to attend different colleges, following our own passions and dreams. This thought brings me to remember a life lesson my mother taught us; our family is like fingers on a hand. If one finger is cut off, all the fingers suffer.

I realize now that a life companion only makes it that much harder to leave family behind, but I will hold on to our many arguments and quirky stories with nostalgia. And, unlike most of our peers, we will enter a new stage of our life the way we always have: together. 

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