It wasn't ever discussed, but this was all quite studied in a way, an early unwritten rule.
And in some ways, it felt like her marriage was reinforcing the same divisions. Like many members of the family, she became a doctor and I didn't. Like many members of the family, she married a doctor and I didn't. So another lingering feeling was that of burden: I felt compelled to justify my own differences which I've fought so hard to establish, fought hard to see as strengths rather than failures
* * *
"This must be such a strange time for you," she kept saying before the wedding. "If you were getting married and I wasn't, I'd be devastated."
Historically, when one of us has been up (happy, moving forward in life), the other has been down (depressed and stuck), and I think that's part what she was referring to when she said that: since she was taking this step forward, would I feel left behind, stuck in a weakened position? Would I feel like I was stagnating?
On the surface, I didn't see it that way, but I'm sure an old, stubborn part of me must have. Twins seem to establish a curious dance, growing in alternate spurts, one moving ahead while the other lags behind and vice versa. While I was finishing my honors thesis in college, she was taking a year off, floundering around and feeling miserable about herself. While she was applying to medical school, I was having a career crisis. Times I've been in love, her relationships have fallen apart and vice versa, that sort of thing.
There are reasons for this, too, not the least of which is that it allows you to manage competition. Experiencing the same victories (or defeats) would have meant comparing too many of the same emotional notes, so without really knowing it, we established our own rules: excel in different areas, so the accomplishments of one twin won't belittle the successes of another; be needy at different times, so the stronger one can bolster the weak; take turns holding back and letting the other catch up.
This dynamic probably made us both a little worries about the symbolism of her marriage, that it represented another step in this same dance — her turn to be happy, or adults, or whatever else a wedding implies.
It was and it wasn't. In one way, I resented the presence of this same old logic, the implicit assumption that if she had found a way to be happy, I should have found a way to be depressed. In another way, it all felt very familiar, and quite appropriate. Her day, her turn.
* * *
And then there was this feeling of loss.
While my mother was pregnant, she was the only person who was sure she was having twins. She kept having dreams: the milkman delivering two bottles of milk instead of one; a pair of pink houses standing side by side. But all the way up to the delivery, the doctors said nope, it's not twins. Even when they listened for heartbeats, they only heard one.
My sister and I always attached great moral significance to that — we were in sync.