A couple of weeks ago, at a family outing, I met a beautiful young writer named Jen. We got to talking, and, within five minutes, I was totally convinced she and I were the same person, had been separated at birth, or partially cloned from the same genetic sequence. It was crazy. I had never before had such a strong sense of mental agnation. We both had the same attitude about writing, the same complaints about our output. We had both taken a sabbatical from our craft, and for the same reasons, too. She understood my anxiety; she had felt it herself. I was shocked. I’ve never had writer friends before, never been able to compare notes with anyone, so to hear my own ideas coming out of someone else’s mouth was such an awesome moment for me. I’m not sure I can accurately describe how this made me feel, so, instead, I’ll tell you a story, to help illustrate my point.
Two of my sisters, S and L, are identical twins. Truly identical. Sometimes, it’s like they share the same brain. Now, obviously, identical twins are never exactly so; L, for example, is more passive, and, S, while I wouldn’t call her aggressive, is definitely more firm about her wants and needs. But even so, they’re pretty damn close. I’ve seen lots of twins consciously do things to convince others of their sameness or difference, but this went beyond any conscious (or unconscious) act. This was innate.
L moved away many years ago, and used to fly up every so often to visit. (She’s since stopped. Flying is expensive, and now there’s her daughter, a teenage beauty I’ll call Nona, for no other reason than I really like the name.) S would go to pick her up at the airport and find that they were wearing the same outfit. They were shocked when they realized they had chosen the same middle name for their daughters. They would complete each others’ sentences mid thought. It went something like this:
S: “Oooh! Ok–Santana guy. So he comes up, being all attitudinal, and I’m like, ‘ok, guy. Whatever.’ And then, I look over–”
L: “Oooh, I saw that! And it’s funny that you said that you weren’t trying to stare, because I noticed that he–”
S: “Riiight?! So–but I didn’t want to say anything–so I waited for him to move away, and then I tapped Alan on the shoulder–very calmly–pointed at the ground, and said ‘LFM’.”
L: “Nuh-uhhh. Get. Out.”
(I’m paraphrasing here, because the real conversation would be three times longer. And yes, they do have a secret code. It’s annoying as fuck.)
Last year, my family and I spent Thanksgiving with L and Nona. Now, both S and L have Blackberries. That weekend, my dear sisters—along with everyone else in the room–discovered they have the same unlock code. Not similar—the SAME. If I hadn’t been there, I would swear they were lying.
That’s what I grew up with; that persistent idea of mental twinnishness and inadvertent completion. I had always wished for that same kind of link with someone else. So when I talked to Jen, and I saw how alike we were in our creative pursuits, I instantly wanted to be her friend. I wanted to learn from her, help her, be her mental double. When she told me that she had started a blog, to finally get started, rediscover her love of writing, and sharpen her skills (hers, too, had atrophied during the dry spell), I thought, “yeah! I’ve been trying to do that for years. Like she said, don’t even think about it, don’t give yourself a chance to psych yourself out. Just do it.” So, I did.