Growing up a twin, everything was shared, which included not only a bedroom, a closet, a desk, clothes and a last name, but also simple “space” in the world. I spent my first years believing what others told me, that I was exactly, “identically,” like my sister – in every way. It was this “sameness,” this “half of a whole” that I struggled against.
When I was in my early thirties, I went to a cocktail party at my cousin’s apartment. He always had unusual, intelligent people around him and this party was no different. I sat down next to a bookish looking man, who introduced himself. I knew his name, as he was from my hometown and had lived in New York for many years. I told him I knew of him from my cousin and was happy to finally meet him. He told me he was a researcher and had spent the last ten years doing twin research, specifically on separated-at-birth identical twins. He said he knew I was an identical twin and asked which one of us was left-handed.
Surprised, I told him both of us were right-handed. He slowly shook his head and said, “No, one of you is left-handed.” According to him, all identical twins are “mirror twins,” meaning one is right-brained and the other left-brained.
He asked me to lace my fingers. Then, he asked me to fold my arms across my chest. “You’re the left-handed twin,” he announced. He went on to say my twin would have her right thumb on top of laced fingers and her right arm folded over her left, the opposite of my own actions.
He said a left-handed person is right brain dominant, and the right-handed one….left brained, of course. Also that the left-handed twin was most often born first.
I had to wait until I got home to my tangled-cord “princess phone” (plugged into the wall as all phones were then) that night to call my twin. Amazingly, what he told me was true, at least in our case.
Since then, I have shared that information with dozens of identical twins. In only one case I encountered did both twins do both actions right-handed. I have no idea what that means.
The diagnosis of “mirror” twin confirmed a belief I had always held that I was really not at all like my twin in personality. Not so much opposite as having different values, opinions and reactions. Certainly not superior…just different.
I have come to understand that my own reactions differ from my twin’s because of our choices of action, which are not the same. This is not because I believe either of our choices to be wrong….just… different. Isn’t this exactly what makes each of us, whether twin or not, unique?
By my reckoning, the answer is yes.