The other night my twin sister and I were sitting on the couch; she was on her third glass of wine, I was falling asleep. “Why are people always doing shit?” she asked me as she scrolled through her Instagram, images of European vacations and girls’ weekends flooding the screen.
She sat there, her long, long hair grazing the tops of her legs, her hand absent-mindedly petting my dog. Our cat stretched out on the arm of the couch, scratching her claws into the already-shredded faux leather. I could hear our other roommate, my sister’s longtime boyfriend, playing video games across the hall.
“I don’t know,” I told her. She shrugged, picked up the cat, and left. I turned my head into a dog hair-covered pillow. It was 9 p.m.
The foundation of my lovely little existence is my relationship with my sister — and the fact that we live together, in the same house, in the same city, with similar job titles and yes, matching cars. We are forever intertwined.
Fear stabbed at my heart recently when I came to terms with the fact that I’m getting older every day. The future scares me for the usual reasons of life and love but also for the very real possibilty that I will one day be separated from my sister. At 25, Sissy and I see how our friends live — so many travel, often to far away places yielding loads of Instagram likes. So many people lead lives that seem beyond the scope of my simple one, and I wonder if I’m doing something wrong. And while I believe wholeheartedly that everyone should get out of their own towns and their own heads, I wonder if I should do it more often.
Would I have a more fulfilling life if I traveled the world? If I lived on a boat? If I were free from the binds that tie me to my sister?
When we were in first grade our elementary school tried to put us in different classes. The idea was that twins should be separated, that independence could only be fostered if we were not together. My mother shut that operation down very quickly. Sissy and I, excluding the trauma of second grade separation, were in the same classes through high school. We had the same major in college, when we would fight over who would go to the general lecture English classes. Often, we both slept through them.
My sister and I have lived in Charleston for three years. This fact, combined with the terrifying talk of the future, has, in a sense, lit a fire under my ass. Where do I go from here? Which, is a scary alternative of, Where do we go from here?
I have come to a flexible conclusion, which means I had an idea that popped into my head while drinking vodka, and which has lingered for a couple of weeks. The conclusion is this: I am lucky to know who and what I love. The thrill of the unknown tugs at me sometimes, but never for long. I cannot be everything or everyone, which is a little disappointing, but I’d rather figure that out now before I waste time traveling the world, seeking something that’s been right in front of me all along.
So there it is, a simple life. That same year that an elementary school tried to put me in a classroom other than my sister’s, I drew a picture. The instruction was to draw your family, and I did: my mother, father, brother, and then us, matching stick figures, holding hands in a poorly drawn circle. I wasn’t trying to exclude the other members of my family, they just didn’t quite fit in our bubble.
Sometimes I imagine a life without a dog who needs taking care of, without a sister who threatens to call the police if I don’t text her every hour.
And then I’m driving home, talking to Sissy on the phone. I sit in the driveway as we recount our days and she pulls up in the matching jeep next to me. It even takes us a few moments to hang up.
I don’t need to sail around the world. One day, maybe I will. With my sister, of course. And my dog. Probably the cat if we can figure that out. We’ll sit on the bow and dangle our feet in the water and we’ll be doing the shit we’ve always seen others doing. It’s pretty simple, really.