Hannah is my sister’s name. We are twins. I use this fact in many of the icebreakers of my life. I thought icebreakers would stop after college, but they haven’t. And so, I rotate between three facts. 1: I have a twin. 2: I used to be in a soap opera when I was a baby because I am a twin. And 3: I have two fake teeth in my mouth. Hannah has the same two fake teeth in her mouth.
Hannah lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She rents a room in a house. The woman she lives with, Allison, is in her 40s. Hannah tells us that Allison is in a relationship with a man she does not like because she does not want to feel lonely. Allison has a daughter in college. Hannah has the habit of calling Allison her roommate when she speaks about her. I find this funny. It makes me wonder if she calls me “Taylor” or “my sister” when she speaks about me.
Hannah works in a bakery. She is currently working in cakes. This is what she tells me, anyway, in our phone calls. “Today, I was on cakes. It was so stressful.” Or “I am practicing my cake writing before Zach comes over.” I am envious of the growth and certainty she sees in her career choice. She has always been more directed. I saw it the year she took Biology Honors and I took regular Biology when we were sophomores in high school. She made this cake in high school that looked like a giant hamburger. She knew early what she wanted to do in life and she hasn’t wavered. I am envious of her ability to stay still.
People ask us if we have “twin powers.” I generally say we don’t. We can’t read each other’s mind. We don’t know when the other is hurt. What I can say, is that we have memories that are false. We argue with our mother about which event happened to whom. These arguments confuse my mom and in the end we have no idea who it happened to. This is not genetic. These false memories are a result of the enormous amount of time we spent together growing up. People would refer to us as a unit. People would start a greeting with “Which one are you?” I sometimes tell people that I didn’t become a person until I went to college. I had moments before, with people who only knew me and not my sister. Those moments were engrossing. And in college in Oregon, I learned the power of individuality. And then, after college as I traveled and developed a confidence of my role in this world, I learned the merit of solitude.
I live in Long Beach. I rent a room in a house on Broadway. Two other women live with me. They are in a relationship because they don’t want to be lonely. They spend a lot of time in the bathroom and talk to me about their lingerie line or about how terrible the food industry is. They talk to me because I am there. And they are always there.
Last night I went over to a man’s house in Costa Mesa. I ate a slice of pizza that was Chicago style. As I ate it, I realized he did not know about the road trip I had taken not to long ago. This bothered me. But I finished the pizza and then we laid in his bed with his boxer and watched the second half of Pulp Fiction. As Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta walked out of the diner and the credits began rolling, I turned to him and said “I have to go.”
He goes, “No stay. I want both of my girls here.” He was referring to me and his dog.
I cringed at the word “my.” But I know he didn’t mean anything by it.
I go, “No I really need to go.”
“What do you have to do?”
“Nothing. I just need my own space and my own time.”
“You know that’s what relationships do? We will end up taking each other’s space and time.”
“I know, but I need to go. I’ll see you soon. But I need to go.”
I wasn’t sure how to make him understand the importance of my solitude and individuality.
I kissed him on his lips several times as he lay on his back in nothing but his boxers. I slipped out from under his clean sheets. Penny followed me out, her paws clapping the wooden floors. I walked out the front door and drank in the night air. I drove home. My little room in Long Beach never looked so beautiful.