I have long had an excellent memory—but a very specific one at that. I can’t tell you anything math related, but I can tell you what you were wearing when we first met, what you said and how I thought you were too cool to be my friend.
Although my sister is six years my senior she often refers to me as her twin.
“This is my sister,______.” My sister will say. Response: “_____, I thought you were a bit older…?
“Well, yeah, but…” My sister will reply as if that fact is irrelevant. Our joint ability to overlook logistics of most situations continues to baffle me. For a long time I referred to her as my “Nasty Twin” inspired by Big Pun’s 1996 smash hit, “I Don’t Want to be a Player No More” and because she has publically admitted to being the nastier half of our duo. In part of being a pseudo-twin I share many things with my sister—dark eyes, dark hair—a deep seated want to be part of a vaudeville act—but more importantly, we share a memory. My memory has taken on a double-ness over time because many of her memories have become mine. I didn’t intend on stealing them—they just took on a double life. Like that time Mom made you take a taxi to school because you were a smart-ass and got kicked off the bus. How you found a taxi service in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, you don’t know, but you did and you continue to make it a good cocktail party story. That was a funny one. A lot of them are not funny. Maybe that’s why you took them on—to lessen the weight of your sister having to remember them herself—you remember together. There was that time down South when you were at school and you were in that professor’s office for help and instead of help he took out a bottle of wine and told you how pretty you were. And, how after that day you didn’t think you were smart anymore—just pretty. And how you kept that memory of yours and didn’t share it until years later. Then it became ours. And in becoming ours, something you didn’t need to hide. A lot of your memories were single memories for a long time—until they found another home—two homes in each our brains. There are lots of other memories we share that I don’t have the courage to write, but they are safe and that is enough.
I don’t tell you this, but I like holding your memories, even the really terrible ones—the ones I won’t write about because it’s my way of showing you how much I love you when it is too hard for me to say. I listen and file them—sometimes inject myself into them, because you feel so much like me—but then I remember to keep myself separate and out of your memories as they are yours. I have to remember we are separate beings—and not two people that share the same genetic code. On one occasion my sister asked my mother “What was it like giving birth to twins?” I was born in 1990, my sister in 1984. We are not twins, yet this sharing has been so intimate and felt so core to me that we are connected as twins are. I consider having you as my sister and my double memory gifts only the lucky ones are given.