In 8th grade (1998), due to a couple different reasons, I had to switch schools three months into the school year. Not only did I switch schools, but I was now in a different school district, so I was surrounded by people who didn’t know me (with one exception, a girl I’ve known my entire life was also a student there and was thrilled to know I recognized her). Starting a new school with a clean slate is honestly pretty annoying, especially when you inadvertently become popular. This was during the height of my goth years but just before the Columbine school shooting, so I walked into that school in all black, weighted down with silver jewelry, wearing a black trenchcoat. You’d think the new kid was from outer space, I got a TON of attention. Word spread immediately that I was “a witch” because this was during the time I studied Wicca, so a large chunk of the school wanted to be my friend either because they thought I was awesome or because they were afraid I’d turn them into a frog.
There were a large handful of people who were almost comically nice to me, they made it a point to say hello to me every single day and their face would brighten when I said hello back. One girl in particular sticks out in my memory because it took me the entire year to realize there were actually two of her.
Every day when I got to school, a tall black girl would practically fall from the sky and wave while cheerfully saying hi to me. She was skinny, pretty, always wore a puffy jacket, and always had her afro tied at the very top of her head like a pineapple. Then later in the day, usually during our lunch break, I’d see her again, this time in a different jacket, and she’d say hi again.
I’m sure you can already see where this is going.
I just assumed she’d change into a different jacket at some point during the day, maybe one was lighter than the other and she only liked the bigger one in the cold mornings, or maybe she’d switch back and forth with a friend she liked borrowing clothes from. It never occurred to me “she” was actually “them,” because I only ever saw one at a time. It took me the entire year to realize they were identical twin sisters. One day toward the end of the school year, I saw them both together for the first time and tried to play it cool as they both said hi to me while we passed each other. Then I just stopped walking and laughed at myself for never realizing the girl who mysteriously changed jackets during the day was really two different girls. I’d never learned their names, so it’s not like I was constantly calling them both by the same name, and it’s always been a problem for me to tell identical twins apart, I just can’t do it. So because I hadn’t seen them together until that moment, I never realized I was always saying hi to two girls and not just one.