The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Birthday Squared

Today is Teri's birthday.  It's a big deal and not just because it's a fun, celebratory day, and not just because our birthdays are exactly one week (and two years) apart and hers come first, and not just because it commemorates the anniversary of her mid-1960's birth.  Teri's birthday (and the week and a half preceding it) is additionally poignant because she is an identical twin.

It took me a couple years into our relationship for the light to go on around this one.  It just took a while for me to break down how a woman who absolutely loved her birthday could also have a really rugged time around it--and not for any of the reasons I recognized. This whole twin-ness is new to me; there aren't really any twins in my immediate family and while I had some twin friends while growing up, none of them were identical.  It's no big deal and it's some big deal--all at the same time.  Birthdays are tough.

Teri kind of kicks it around every year too.  After all, she explains, she's probably spent more birthdays on her own than in all the childhood years where she and her sister shared their day (which often meant a shared cake!)  She likes having pieces of the day to herself and having us all make a fuss, but that doesn't seem to erase the reality that for a week or so leading up to the milestone, there are complicated emotions and the need for strong, daily connections and conversations with her sis.  It is beautiful, awesome and painful all at the same time.

In the first couple years of our relationship, I thought my job was to dazzle and distract.  I'll just lay it out here that it can be tough to know what to do with dynamics one doesn't understand. Now, I know my role is simply to make room and support the process.  I make the cake (or chocolate cupcakes as it was this year), take care of little birthday celebrations and commemorations on this end and step aside.  Unlike other relationships, where partner or parent preparations took center stage, for Teri--she needs room to experience her birthdays by paying attention to the shared ties, the unexplainable connection, yearning, and pangs of absence that all come up each January.  Most of the time, I don't really think about her being an identical twin, but when birthday time rolls around, it is hard for either one of us to think of anything else...

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