Siblinghood is fickle. Each sibling grows at their own pace, or they don’t. Each finds their own interests, or they don’t. And each has the freedom to be their own person, or they don’t. They are hopelessly intertwined and every decision that one makes will irreversibly affect the other.
Or maybe I’m just talking out of my ass.
More than that, we are twins. We are imperfect halves of each other, and everything we say and do reflects upon the other. The lives that we live will never be separate from each other, and I want you to know:
I don’t want them to change.
I care about you more than anything else.
Get your own life.
Why are we always seen together on the tips of people's tongues?
You are the most important person in my life.
I love you.
We’re sitting in the car together, prompted by our shared wanderlust. I hold something close to my chest as you hold the wheel. We talk about errands, dancing around our father's deteriorating health. We laugh about a video you showed me. You avoid looking in my eyes so I don’t remind you of mom. It’s a tense dance, more so than those of our youth, you might joke. But that doesn’t leave your lips because you know that’s not true.
“I guess that’s where it all started.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, most of my problems probably came from that dance studio.”
They could all be traced back to [that] Russian lady, one Teresa Lubarsky—whom I have to thank for my social anxiety, you for your issue with authority—and a joint “thank you” for our body dysmorphia. That was something that we wished we didn’t do together, because then at least one of us wouldn’t have to carry the baggage given to us by that lady’s crushed dreams.
I sat behind the painted door on the sticky Marley, trying to hide from everyone. You put rosin on your pointe shoes that caused haunting physical and emotional damage. We are not the same.
“We definitely were the same. I mean, look at us now.”
“Actually—truthfully, respectfully—no fucking way were we the same.”
“At least you were talking to people.”
“Yeah, but the people I was talking to sucked.”
Whether we liked it or not, dance was the hobby we shared for the longest time. We fell in and out of love with it around the same time, but we still look back fondly at our formative years and wish we could warn four-year-old us not to do ballet.
We broke apart after that, after class at least. In school, we were still Joan and Emma. Emma and Joan. The twins.
Attending different high schools helped us find each other. It finally felt like we could be our own people. And it also finally felt like we found a good reason to stay out of the house, away from mom and dad. We started working in restaurants sophomore year and even as I type this I dread my upcoming shift as a busser, just as I did when our mom still drove us around.
I don’t remember much from our last dinner as a family, just the clinking of forks against plates. The small talk always made me feel like we could get along, until you and mom inevitably transitioned, flawlessly, into argument. After that I would run back and forth trying to repair the damage from her comment about your body; all while she forgets my name.
“Dad’s always easier to talk to.”
“Am I wrong?”
“He’s easier to talk to for you, I feel like he hates me most of the time.”
“I don’t think he likes me all that much.”
He took you halfway across the state so you could go to an aquarium together and he looks at me like I’m a stranger when I ask him for help around the house. I hate how different we are. The amount of time that he invests in you and your interests makes me so happy I want to throw up. I’ve spent so many nights crying my eyes out because my dad threatened to hit me when I asked him if he could play catch with me. I wanted that cliché experience with him and I couldn’t even get that. And now we can’t even say anything bad about him because of his condition, but I’m just so tired. He doesn’t like me. He never has and I’m tired of pretending that it’s okay. I want my dad to act like small talk with me isn’t the deepest we’re ever going to get. Let me spend time with him, let him realize that he messed up with me, and he’s why I flinch whenever a man raises his voice. Let me just have that.
I know mom is better with me than she is with you, but not by much. I know how to talk to her, and I know how to talk to you, but neither of you knows how to do that for each other. I’m a bona fide translator in my own childhood home because of the disconnect between mother and daughter.
But you don’t. We might have our differences.
The way we fight.
Who we like and who we talk about over lunch.
Our taste in music.
What we want to do with our lives.
The ways we show love.
The ways we don’t.
But, you’ll always be my sister.
There will never be anyone I’m more willing to confide in. No one can match your skills with a rolling pin. No one else with whom I can communicate sans words. No one who understands the joy and hardship of having our parents and our lives. Ultimately, you’re my other half. I’d say you’re the better half and you’d say the opposite and that argument wouldn’t get us anywhere.
Being siblings with you is hard.
But you know what?
You couldn’t be anyone else.
“You know I love you, right?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“I love you, too.”
JOAN MCENHILL attended CU Boulder as a Junior in the BFA-Musical Theatre Program. Joan finds their passions in theatre and writing.
DANIEL WORKMAN obtained his AAS from the Isaacson School for Professional Photography and graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Daniel focuses his artistic energy into mediums such as writing, photography, filmmaking, and songwriting. With an interest in culture, anthropology strongly influences the work he creates. Daniel's accomplishments include work with Pulitzer Prize winning photographers at the Eddie Adams Workshop in New York.