Let us begin with a little clarification: Evil Twin is neither evil nor my twin.
I would say she is merely my sister, but that’s not entirely true either. Evil Twin has been everything from my sworn enemy to my best friend. She is my partner in crime, my creative cohort and, if we’re being honest here (and why not?), a source of both inspiration and frustration.
Our history begins in a hospital waiting room. E.T. (ha!) has come to see her new little sister for the first time. She is 3 years old and small for her age, dwarfed by the chair she sits in. Someone, perhaps mom herself, places a bundle of blankets and pink, wrinkled baby into E.T.’s arms. Someone has a camera on hand to capture the moment, and here is what the evidence shows: E.T. with her elbow on the armrest of the chair, leaning her face on the palm of her hand, eyes rolled upward to the camera, brow furrowed, mouth pouty, barely holding the screaming, red-faced baby in her lap.
That snapshot is a pretty accurate portrayal of our first 16 years together. Me: trying, and perpetually failing, to gain her approval. Her: trying, perpetually to be left alone. There were moments of triumph for me during those years – times when her guard would drop just long enough for her to allow me to tag along on a shopping trip or evening at the coffee shop – but these were few and far between.
Flash forward to E.T. leaving home for college: Everything changed. I’m not entirely sure what occurred here. Perhaps I had finally done enough growing up that she and I had something to talk about? Perhaps the first move (we’d made many as military brats) without us awoke a new appreciation for her family? Your guess is as good as mine. The certainty here is that we quickly became allies and haven’t budged as such since.
Now flash WAY forward to 2:28pm, Friday, May 8, 2009. Evil Twin is currently on her way to Columbus (likely somewhere in West Virginia). Just her and Moose (Gabe’s little quasi Chihuahua cuz). She is strong, fierce, independent. She is recently separated.
Yes, Evil Twin feels as though she’s awoken from a blurry dream, many years long. Rather than crumble along with her marriage, though, she’s done something quite the opposite.
I don’t know what set the snowball rolling exactly; I could take an educated guess. I got a call from her one evening, and the rest was history. Within weeks she had asked for a separation (with inevitable divorce, as her husband’s behavior has only served to put any doubts to rest), found friends to stay with, then a room to sublet. Those first few nights I spoke with her, she was terrified and having difficulty imagining life without her husband. Well I knew she could. The whole family did. I mean, this is the girl who, during a high school trip to England, took a train from London to Ipswich BY HERSELF, then trekked across the moors on foot to reach the tiny hamlet and sturdy old home where my father had lived for a year as a child. But her state of mind was a testament to the power of influence from someone you think you love and you think loves you.
In the past couple of weeks, she’s been involved in volunteer work, taken an interest in Super 8 film and started a personal blog. She’s nurturing the few friends that were hers and hers alone (most had been mutual, if not just her husband’s), imagining up plans and inviting people along. She’s offered to be assistant director for a local production of Cabaret.
In short: Evil Twin is back.
I’m finally seeing the girl who planned to move to overseas with me (even if we never did it…), the girl who jumped in a car to drive to Canada with me because we had a couple of days to kill, the girl who had always imagined something greater for herself than becoming a housewife and hockey mom. Here is the girl who’s acceptance I always wanted and finally have (no kidding – the night she invited me out with her and bought me my first Milky Way Latte, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven). In truth, we’ve accepted each other, flaws and all, and have found we make quite the team.
Part of me, I think, has been waiting for this version of her to emerge (there have been temporary glimpses over the years, some of my favorite memories) as long as I’ve known her. It’s just a bit mind blowing to finally see her standing, in full color in my living room. She glows.
Yes, it’s painfully beautiful to see the real Evil Twin step forward. There are many things I’ve hoped for; and many times I’ve been heartbreakingly disappointed. So when something like this, something I’ve hoped for perhaps since I lay writhing in my sister’s lap 28 years ago, actually comes to fruition? Have you ever been so happy it hurts your chest a little? And you risk short-circuiting your keyboard with your stupid happy tears?
Well, you get the idea then.