My twin, Go. I’ve said this phrase so many times, it has become a reassuring mantra instead of actual words: Mytwingo. We were born in the ’70s, back when twins were rare, a bit magical: cousins of the unicorn, siblings of the elves. We even have a dash of twin telepathy. Go is truly the one person in the entire world I am totally myself with. I don’t feel the need to explain my actions to her. I don’t clarify, I don’t doubt, I don’t worry. I don’t tell her everything, not anymore, but I tell her more than anyone else, by far. I tell her as much as I can. We spent nine months back to back, covering each other. It became a lifelong habit. It never mattered to me that she was a girl, strange for a deeply self-conscious kid. What can I say? She was always just cool. — American author Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (2012)
Not long into my first job at a local women’s magazine, I met Louise, who had just been hired as the stylist. We sat next to each other in adjoining cubicles. She’d studied architecture at the local university, I had just returned with a journalism degree from America.
If one of us wasn’t out doing interviews or the other wasn’t gathering clothes and accessories from boutiques, the other magazine staff passing our cubicles to go to the restroom or to other offices would see the two of us sitting at our desks. And the back view, we were told, was like seeing double. Two heads of long dark hair, tousled, uncombed, on similarly petite forms. You look like twins, they said.
There the similarities ended. Louise had a porcelain complexion, is chatty and had a lot of opinions which she liked to share over press lunches or at dinner after work. I was tanned, quiet and perceived icy by not a few fellow staffers. Louise smiled a lot.
Her immediate boss was an older woman called Jennifer, a longtime fashion editor of the magazine. Even Jennifer acknowledged our sisterhood by referring to us as the Bobbsey Twins.
For those who didn’t grow up on children’s detective fiction, this is what the Bobbsey Twins—in illustrated pictures—look like.
As you can guess, the reference was not accurate. The flawed nickname was not flattering and wasn’t meant to be.
Still, the name, for all its unfavourable dissonance, didn’t bother Louise and I.We accepted it with the good-naturedness of young working women focussed on doing what we did well. Long after we’d left the magazine, we would meet occasionally and refer to ourselves as the Bobbsey Twins. It was our way of lifting the lid off the hope chest that held memories of our First Job. To be a Bobbsey Twin once more was to treasure the idea of having a twin, –a description bestowed by someone else, not something I, who have no sisters, or she, made up because we wanted it to be so– and ever since Louise, I have not had the pleasure of meeting someone who looked like me, even from the back.
I visited my twin recently in Hong Kong, where she lives now with her husband, also an architect, and two children.
On hindsight, I should have taken a picture of our backs instead. We might have fooled you too.
Do you have a ‘twin’? Leave a comment if you do!