'Imagination will take you everywhere'
On 5th March 2014 I turned nineteen. This year will be my last as a teen, in which I’ll hopefully bid adieu to raging hormones, spots and mood swings (oh, the sweet joys of adolescence). Nineteen years ago I was impatiently waiting for D-day, twisting and wriggling in my suffocating boudoir, craving the freedom of that first wheezing breath. But I was not alone in my mother’s womb. And for the past nineteen years I have never truly experienced loneliness.
Our Mum had been adamant about having a natural birth. Nevertheless by the last few contractions she was screaming for an epidural (alas too late) and demanding as much gas as possible (Dad thought she was high on it!). Ellie was taking her time as per usual. So after our poor Mother went to hell and back, Twin One was finally delivered and promptly turned a peculiar shade of bluey-green. Twelve minutes later I arrived with my umbilical cord snaked around my delicate neck – how ironic; the life line that had kept me alive for nine months was now attempting to take it from me. We were both rushed to intensive care – it was a tricky birth to say the least, but twins tend to be double the trouble.
It’s impossible to describe what it’s like being a twin, but if I had to I would define it thus; having a twin is like having an imaginary friend who is not imaginary. Like a best friend who hardly ever leaves your side. Most people would find this irritating, suffocating and highly stifling to say the least. But not me. From birth to advancing adulthood, Ellie and I have been inseparable. We are literally like two peas in a pod (pardon the pun); having shared a bedroom our whole life, we attended the same primary school, secondary school, sixth form and college. All of the most momentous milestones we have experienced as a twosome. We said our first word within a week of each other, together we progressed from stabilisers to grown-up bikes, we both got braces when we were fourteen, and we even learnt to drive together – an incredibly stressful time for everyone involved (our parents still haven’t fully recovered). On Saturdays we stroll down to our local tearoom, don aprons and whip up frothy coffees, while confusing customers; a source of hilarious entertainment. One woman did a double take as we served her, before declaring – with a deadly serious expression – that she thought she was having a stroke.
Our family photo albums are littered with photographs of doppelgangers grinning mischievously at the camera underneath identical fringes and clad in matching dresses – we were constantly in a world of our own; surreptitiously planning our next twin invasion. Teamwork has always been our forte. The twin bubble is an unusual phenomenon; one which only twins can understand. We can sense how the other is feeling and frequently finish each other’s sentences, but twin telepathy is a myth. Although we did have fun in secondary school convincing our friends we were telepathic – it was all a trick, designed to shock and intrigue.
As we grow older, similarities turn to differences; hairstyles change, looks evolve, yet our genes will remain eternal. The misconception people have about twins is that they are the same. Yes, we may be physically very similar, but we are two separate individuals who need to be recognised as such. Whatever happens, we are glued together by an unspoken connection – and far from feeling shackled by this, it fills me with a warm sense of comfort that no matter what I face in my life I will always have someone to turn to (and dance around the kitchen to Blondie with). But sooner or later that twin bubble must be popped.
This September won’t just mark the end of a sun-drenched summer, it will also be the first time that my twin sister and I will live apart. Different universities await us and with them the challenge of independence. Living without Ellie will be like learning to walk after the loss of a limb; painful, seemingly impossible, yet ultimately achievable. We must one day learn to live as individuals. In some ways this next chapter will echo that of our birth; emerging from the safety and comfort of familiarity, blinking misty eyed at the new-found independence, taking in that deep breath of long-awaited freedom – so liberating and yet so daunting. The world is our oyster; shiny with future opportunities and experiences – good, bad and ugly. Despite the fact that Ellie and I will be treading separate paths and making our own discoveries, I know that I will never be alone. The bond between sisters is notoriously a resilient one; the bond that twins share is unbreakable.