I’m a twin. My sister Julia, is six minutes younger than me; a fact that makes her the baby of the family and me, the middle child. Something I used against her many times when we were kids! We don’t know whether we are identical - the placenta was damaged - but we did used to confuse the patrons of the bar we worked in, when we worked the same shift! We both love the outdoors, including wild swimming and are creative, passionate and determined women. But we are also very different. For example, she’s a dab hand on a sewing machine and took that passion by going into television costume. I, on the other hand, am utterly useless at anything practical with my hands! Though I too did venture into television but on the post production project management side of things.
When I was younger, people used to ask me what it’s like to be a twin and I’d always quip: “Well, what’s it like being a single child?” My point was that being a twin is normal to me and that I didn’t define myself by it. However, as then, society still has a fascination with multiple births, obsessing over the idea that we might be telepathically linked and that we might have some special insight into each others feelings where single children do not. Personally, I don’t go in for that at all. The eeriest thing I can claim to have happened is that we’d often unknowingly buy exactly the same birthday presents for each other!
In Fig Swims the World - Fig is taken under the wing of an old lady called Sage who belongs to a swimming group called the Mermaids. Sage has a twin sister called Myrtle, something that Fig soon realises when she starts swimming with them, and both soon become a much needed support network for her New Year’s resolution of swimming the world. Being a twin meant that it was easy to write Sage and Myrtle’s relationship and which at times (no spoilers here) made me cry.
However, when I sat down to write this blog post a few months ago, all I could think about was the negatives. The fact that I somehow was deprived of my individuality by constantly being referred to as ‘the girls’ or ‘the twins’. The way friends couldn’t cope with our impenetrable friendship (and believe me they tried). The loneliness of not being in any of my sister’s classes at school (we were put on opposite sides of the year that made it impossible). But today, it suddenly hit me - I love being a twin!
So, here’s me shouting from the rooftops how good it is to be one. The companionship, the support, the best friend on tap. Someone I can bawl my eyes out to, rant down the phone to, and who won’t tell me to shut up or change or judge me. I love that we get to share the joy of our birthday together - Ju’s always the first person I will think of. She’s my best friend and we will always be there for each other. And those negatives? Well, they’ve shaped me. They helped me realise who my true friends were. They made me loyal to the friends I’ve made since. And in terms of my individuality, it’s something I constantly strive for. Question is, can you tell which one is me in the photo?