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ELISA LORELLO | No We Don’t Have ESP…What It’s Like To Be A TWIN

February 15, 2010

ELISA LORELLOORDINARY WORLDI was born just three minutes after my twin brother in January 1970. (Yes, I just turned 40. That’s another post altogether.) I came as a surprise to just about everyone except my mother, a buy-one-get-one-free deal, if you will. My four older brothers were thrilled to have another boy. My only sister was even more thrilled to finally have a girl.

You’d be surprised how many people ask us if we’re identical, to which I reply, “If we are, then one of us has a big problem…” He loves to introduce me to his co-workers by slouching next to me to meet my height and saying, “See the resemblance?” with a mock straight face and sincere tone.

My twin brother and I are different in every way. He’s tall; I’m short. He’s got straight hair; I’ve got curly hair (naturally curly, that is). He’s right-handed; I’m left-handed. He’s got brown eyes; mine are blue. He can listen learn to play a piece of music just by listening to it, while I can draw by copying
from photographs. He’s very shy; I’m rather outgoing. We’re both writers, but he writes literary science fiction with a prosaic style that is quite elegant. I write commercial fiction and romantic comedies. And yet, he’s one of only a small handful of people I am truly trying to impress with my writing. When he likes something I’ve written, it’s a good day and high praise. When he laughs at my jokes, especially in writing, then I am over the moon.

I’m a better writer thanks to my wombmate. He taught me how to be funny. He taught me to always start a story as close to the middle as possible (Vonnegut’s advice, really, but passed on to me), and always to put my characters someplace they don’t want to be. When I showed him pages from Ordinary World in its very early stages, it was he who said in feedback, “A major loss conjures up all other losses.” I then put those words into the mouth of my character Melody Greene, therapist, and that idea brought the story to new levels of depth and complexity.

He catches all my split infinitives, too. Annoying, but helpful.

I have an indefinitely unfinished manuscript in which the protagonist has a twin brother. I hope I can somehow get those two characters into a published book someday because I really love them. Not because they’re us, but because I relate to them so well.

Perhaps the most common question I get is whether we share ESP, or a “twin connection”. Alas, we don’t. We don’t communicate telepathically (although we do text each other quite a bit), I don’t know if he’s in pain or having a bad day, and he can’t understand what I see in Gilmore Girls. The closest we came was that for a period of time we were both having the same recurring dream about our childhood house shortly after it was sold. (Yeah, it sounds cool, but if we were having it at the same time, then I’d really be impressed)

We are connected though. We’re connected in that I can’t possibly relate to any of my other siblings the way I relate to him (and I’m close to all of them in different ways, especially my sister). We’re connected in that I’ll never conceptualize what life as a non-twin is like. It’s like trying to picture yourself born in another country, speaking another language, or as a different gender.

More importantly, I don’t want to know. Ever.

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