January 23, 2012
People have always asked me what it’s like being a twin, and I’ve always told them, “I don’t know any different.” Lately, I’ve been giving it some thought, though, and I’ll tell you this…
Life is interesting when you’re a twin. To come into being is miraculous enough, but to begin existence in the same place and time as another human being is something quite extraordinary. My parents tried for six years to have children. They even slipped a handwritten prayer into the ancient cracks of the Wailing Wall in Israel asking for a child of their own. When they found out they were having twins, their joy was indescribable.
This may sound strange and I’m not proud of it, but in my mother’s womb I somehow managed to hoard a great deal of nutrients to myself. My sister, Allie, was born wailing, pink, and fragile and thirty seconds later I emerged quiet, fat, and happy, looking more like a 6 month old than a new born babe. The nurses kept my sister and I together a lot of the time, Allie tucked snugly under my baby fat rolls. We gave each other warmth and comfort in a harshly bright, unfamiliar world.
As children, Allie and I spent every waking moment together. When we were able to walk, Allie would climb into my crib every night to sleep with me. She was always the wild one, running around like a ferrel child while I sat idly by, observing, sucking my thumb. As we became more clever and inventive, we routinely tied our bed sheets to our bed posts to make giant forts. We discovered our young wittiness as we co-wrote and performed original skits and musical numbers, complete with written programs, for any willing audience. When we played school, Allie always let me be the teacher, while she played my semi-attentive student. During month long visits with our grandparents in rural Virginia, we delighted in gathering all manner of organic materials to concoct our very own witches’ brew. Looking back on it, I realize just how lucky we were to have constant play mates.
When we went our separate ways to college, we both experienced something completely foreign. Without each other, people didn’t identify either of us as one part of a dynamic duo. I have to say, it was weird for me at first, but I was happy for the experience. I even spent a few birthdays without her. When my college friends met my twin sister for the first time, they were shocked by how different we were, but they all agreed that we made total sense together. They ended up becoming friends with my sister too!
Since being evicted, so to speak, from our mother’s cozy womb, my sister and I have blossomed into very distinct individuals -night and day really. Allie is an extrovert, always ready for a party, while I am pretty shy, usually content and happy doing solitary things. Allie lives from one impulse to the next, quick to fall in love, where I tend to weigh the pros and cons a bit too often and am extremely guarded. Allie is the most brazen of flirts, while I am as bashful and awkward as they come. She is messy. I am neat. She writes poetry. I read books. She laughs at jokes. I unintentionally make them. She is chaos. I am order. Our personalities clash quite a bit resulting in some historic fights. Still, these fights end as quickly as they begin. Strangely enough, with all of our differences, we have the same friends, we share the same sense of humor, we listen to the same music, and we both find joy in certain things that are difficult to explain -like the taste of an ice cream sandwich, the whistle of a train at night or the smell of our grandmother’s perfume. We share memories. She knew me from a seed, and I knew her from a seed. We managed to jump the hurdle of life together, the sole survivors in a race to conception. You don’t get much closer than that. Indeed, she is the yin to my yang.
One of the things I love most about my sister is that she can’t stand to see anyone get hurt or humiliated. For example, she refuses to watch the often demeaning American Idol auditions. She has tremendous empathy for others, and she is usually the first person friends call for comfort. She never judges. She never holds grudges.
At the same time, her sensitivity to human vulnerability has gotten in her way a lot, resulting in talents under-cultivated and undiscovered. She is a tremendous poet and singer, but she refuses to share these talents with others. Everyone that knows me, including my sister, would agree that I rarely say nice things to her. I don’t know why. It just feels strange. That is what prompted me to write this. That and a little poem she wrote. It goes like this…
written by Allie Snyder
Words are those little automobiles
zipping down doll baby interstates, skidding and crashing into each other
burning up perfectly descriptive
and the uncertain smoke
exhausted from their dramatically unnecessary explosions
is a bridge to that fuzzy, almost place
that place beyond the line where the ocean supposedly keeps going
even though we can’t see it anymore
no matter how hard we try to.
But if we could see it
It wouldn’t be poetry anymore.
It would just be more ocean.
would start being possible
And that’s no fun at all.
named after their mothers and their fathers…
creations, legacies, plain… extraordinary explanations.
is drug laced prose,
all chopped up and strewn across the page.
And for those of us with delightfully short attention spans,
it is the most captivating high.
…and that is my twin sister in a nutshell.
For my sis:
No one’s gonna love you more than I do.