Who do you sometimes compare yourself to?

Random fact about me: I’m a twin. Not an identical twin, but a twin all the same, and have spent most of my life as one half of “The Twins”. Growing up in an English village of around 800 people, being a twin was an anomaly; it’s only as an adult that I’ve realized it’s not as uncommon as I thought. However, I spent my childhood being almost exclusively linked to my sister in sentences, classrooms, and social circles, and this blog post is really nothing short of a love letter for her.

Really, my twin sister and I couldn’t be more different. For our entire lives we had different colour hair, eyes, even skin (I was more olive skinned, she was the typical English Rose). We are different heights, different builds, have different political leanings. She likes red wine, I like white. She can handle tequila. I, well, can’t. In school she was excellent at science and maths, whereas my moment of brilliance was answering the question “Can anyone tell me what an ion is?” with the witty retort “Men have been asking that question for years, sir”. I earned a detention and a predicted failing grade. My sister filed her nails for two years and breezed her way to straight A’s.

My parents, both youngest children, were keen to keep us different from each other. We dressed differently from as long as I can remember, with my parents making sure we chose our outfits independently from each other and were not allowed to change our minds once we saw what the other got. It served us well, and we each have a totally unique style. Actually, her style is unique, featuring hand embellished pieces, jewelry, and African prints made from Ugandan textile. My style is more GAP catalogue, or J Crew. The last time my sister visited me, she stepped off the plane wearing a Mexican bandanna, eyed my leather jacket and white shirt and said “Always a fan of solids”.

So really, I have no reason to compare myself to her, except that in every imaginable way she is everything that I aspire to be. Nothing short of wonderful, my beloved Emma is, by unanimous vote, the coolest, most inspiring person in my world. The nature of her inspiration doesn’t stem from some terrible suffering, or from mastering some impossible feat, she just makes the very process of living effortless. My husband tells the story of the first time he met her: We were walking through downtown Lawrence, KS, and my husband complained “You know, I’m kinda hungry”. Without a word my sister pulled a giant cookie from her handbag and gave it to him. Upon seeing his cookie, I bemoaned “But I’m hungry too”. My sister reached into her (corderoy, patched) handbag and produced another giant cookie.

Who on earth travels with two giant cookies in their handbag? My sister does. The only usefulness my purse contains for anyone other than me is old receipts for chewing gum.

Truthfully, our lives are polar opposites. After I got married and moved to the States, my sister packed her bags and travelled on her own to Ghana to teach (this was after she sang her speech at the wedding, and escorted my American groomsmen around the country when I was honeymooning).

I know that Kansas City most likely has limited space for a bandanna wearing, Afro-sporting, left wing philanthropist, but I still sometimes try on every single piece of jewelry I own at one time to see if I can pull it off like she can. I can’t. And I still never have cookies in my purse when people need them.

 

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