In the old days, which means when my identical twin and I lived in the same state, we were often asked, "What's it like to be a twin?" At age twelve, I got tired of that and answered the question with a question, "What's it like not to be a twin?"
Good question. My sister and I were born about six years after our one sibling, so I was the "baby" in our family by one minute. The age gap between our older sister and us also made us ever more a firm two-some than twins from larger and closer families. My twin and I were called "identical mirror twins," which means she's left-handed and I use my right, we had opposite hair parts 'til we both went to the middle and such like that. I guess we were nearly conjoined.
Biology books taught me that identical twins are the result of an "asexual" process. In other words, it's a pure accident from the separation of one egg. We were "freaks" from age zero. Her kids and my daughter could be called half-siblings rather than cousins because their mothers' genes are so identical, even though I married an American Indian and she married an American cowboy.
This information and more continues to interest me, along with my old question about how to grow up without a twin. Yes, we've experienced twin behavior in other ways. She broke her left arm and I soon broke my right. She knocked out her front teeth and pretty soon I had to get caps for my own broken front teeth. The unhurt twin also always hollered first. Believe me, I hope for her continuing health to this day.
As for psychic occurrences, they happen as well. From over a hundred miles away, I've heard her call my name three times, with quick collaboration on the phone to prove it and give it reason. We often know when the other will call, and have similar thoughts about different situations. I consider myself a "receiver" and her a "sender," from big sends to little ones, and they happen a lot. I hope we both remain generally happy.
When I visit her, some of her friends think I'm her at first and second contact. On the phone, we sound alike. We had a lot of fun with that in high school. It was amazing how many kids unknowingly gossiped about one twin to another. In grade school, we had to wear nametags on our uniforms so the teachers could tell us apart. Of course we switched them now and then. Who wouldn't?
Our parents gave us a bicycle-built-for-two one Christmas, to ride to school. In uniforms. I wasn't surprised to hear a kid yell to his mother, "Is that a two-headed bike?" And you shouldn't be surprised to hear it was not a favorite gift. I'd already thought twice that I saw her in the mirror instead of me, and for us, "twinned" things weren't appreciated.
Then there were the few fights at grammar school. If anyone picked on one of us, we fought back as a victorious four-fisted team. We still tried to whack each other on occasion. But we were and remain too close to let minor things like bloody noses or egos last longer than the moment it takes to say forget it. That's not a very long moment.
We grew up pretty insulated from outside influence, including our older sister, parental worries, and personal worries about who to trust. We trusted each other. We didn't even speak English until the age of three. We talked "twin-speak," which sounds like gibberish to others, until we moved to a new house. Then we said, in unison, "No! We don't like it here! Take us home!" Mom says she ran to Dad and they spent some time either dismayed or joyful, take your pick. All I know is that we stayed in the new house.
So what is it like to grow up without a twin? I moved, and have since felt more alone than a "normal" person might. I know that, besides writing, I'm quieter than most. My twin and I never had to talk much and we never did "small talk."
Would I be more outgoing without growing up a twin? Would I have such a great home base in life to touch as she is? Would I be able to love or hate strongly with the option for those emotions to change? I hope so. These things had to grow since we don't live together anymore. But -- she's still there. What is it like to be one of a kind, anyway?