On sharing a birthday

25 years ago today, my sister Joanna was born. And she had 60 glorious seconds to enjoy a birthday of her own, which she probably wouldn’t have screamed through if she knew that, a minute later, I would show up. And for the rest of her life she would never have a birthday she wasn’t forced to share.

Don’t let the smiles fool you; we hated each other for the first 16 years or so of our lives.

Being a twin is a huge part of who I am. Most people would assume that after an entire childhood of sharing everything, and competing at everything, and drawing lines down the middle of our room so we could have our own space and everything, I would have a lot of complaints about being a twin. But I don’t.

It’s like watching the 80s become the 90s through our shirts.

Our parents taught us to work out our differences on our own (Cue scenes like, “Daaaad! Joanna is using all the blue Play-Doh!!” or “Mommmm Aileen won’t stop digging her fingernails into my arm!!!!” and our parents responding with, “Oh, that’s nice.”), so from a young age we learned that relationships are sometimes hard work, but they don’t go away, and you have to figure out a way to survive in them.

My mom passed her hair genes down to me.

Our parents also nurtured our individuality by never dressing us alike for Halloween. Instead, they dressed me as a “Hawaiian business man” and let Joanna wear a feather in her hair and go as Tiger Lily. I blame this for most of my emotional problems.

The first question we’re usually asked when people find out we’re twins is “Are you identical?” You’d seriously be surprised by the number of people who look straight at both of us and ask if we are identical to each other.

Even in the same outfit as her, I look more like that goat than I look like Joanna.

We’re fraternal. Two separate eggs. Mystery solved. The second question we usually get is about who’s older, and since I’ve already answered that, I’ll move onto the third question: “Do you have a lot in common?”

Short answer: Yes. And also no.

Clearly, we both love UCLA football and brushing our teeth on the floor with a kitten. Twins.

Had you asked us early on, we would have admitted to having few common interests or personality traits. Joanna is an extreme extrovert, and I lean towards introversion. She runs right for Splash Mountain at Disneyland, but if I get anywhere near that ride, I immediately start hyperventilating and peeing my pants. Joanna ran track and cross country in high school; I was in marching band and poetry club. She tans like she could maybe be Puerto Rican, and if I’m out in the sun for more than 20 minutes without sunscreen, I basically crumble into a fine powder. She drinks exclusively red wine, and I drink exclusively white. In so many ways, we’re opposites.

But through the years, we both discovered a love for writing. A love for theater. A love for yearbook. A love for pointing out misplaced apostrophes and hyphens (we get that from both of our parents). And, at one point in time, we even had the same glasses.

We also both own this dress and the same black mary-jane pumps. TWINS.

So even though Joanna is now a spinning instructor outside of her day job and all I’ve done of note lately is sweep the poetry category in Double Jeopardy, we’ve both ended up in the same city, at the same time, and we’re both saying goodbye to 24 later tonight at our birthday party, where we’re choosing to wear identical costumes and share the day with each other, even though we could have chosen to celebrate separately. And although I may not always be able to celebrate my birthday with Jonathan (in fact, Afghanistan and long distance have made sure that I’ve never celebrated my birthday with Jonathan), I’ll always have somebody to celebrate it with telepathically. Because twins can read each other’s minds. That’s the fourth most common question we’re asked.

Happy birthday, Joanna.

Pretty sure this was a precursor to planking.

11 thoughts on “On sharing a birthday

  1. “Our parents also nurtured our individuality by never dressing us alike for Halloween. Instead, they dressed me as a “Hawaiian business man” and let Joanna wear a feather in her hair and go as Tiger Lily. I blame this for most of my emotional problems.”

    I cannot. Stop. Laughing.

    Oh god, I’m so happy I know you both. Can’t wait to see you tonight!

    • What you can’t tell from the picture is that they drew a mustache on me and gave me a briefcase. Clearly the costume intensity started early for me. Bring your A-game!

  2. I would love you guys a little bit more if you were Siamese twins and had a TLC show I could be on, but I love you a lot even without that. Happy birthdays.

  3. Another thing you have in common: Cheesy “cheese” faces. Oh man those baby twinzies smiles kill me in every picture. Welcome to the mid-twenties, gals. You’re both doing great things. Can’t wait to host everyone tonight!

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