Personally, I don’t give a damn about the label of feminism. It’s one that I rarely use myself. What I DO care deeply about is the perpetuation of gendered nonsense.
I moved to San Diego, California today and I don’t feel like a triplet anymore.
I’ve been away, alone, before but that was when I had a round trip ticket and a plan to go back home. Right now, I’m sitting in the Dallas Fort Worth airport with a one-way! Alarms in my brain are going off as I travel by my lonesome. I walk around with my backpack zippers half open, mini Reese’s wrappers falling out and my poncho dragging on the ground. I introduce myself like this, “Hey, I’m Abby, I am a co-dependent weirdo but I can’t help it because I’m a triplet. Can you watch my bag while I go pee? Because my sisters aren’t here to do so.”
I grew up with two peas in my pod all the time and I loved every second of it. I feel like everyone likes triplets; I’ve never come across someone not liking me because I was one. Three is a great number. Society loves when the three of us romp around together, as do I. We ALWAYS have fun. I have felt admiration and possibly a form of jealousy because we are triplets and because we are so close; to those people -- PSA: Get over it; you probably have better hair than me.
In public, being a triplet is an immediate conversation starter. "Are you guys twins?" Double take. "Triplets?! TRIPLETS!!! Whoa, cool!" Now, cue the Q&A session, boom, ice is broken, and we make friends. It’s so easy. People automatically like me because I have one sister on my right, one sister on my left and they both look like me.
I have a friend, a great and honest friend of 19 years who has said to me, “They only like you because you’re a triplet.” Or if something good happens or we get a lot of attention somewhere, she’ll say, “It’s just because you’re a triplet.” I laugh and I respect it, because in a lot of cases it’s true.
I was on the phone with my sister one time. She had been at a job interview and the interviewer asked her, “Tell me something interesting about yourself” and Megan said, “Well, I am a triplet.”
Megan said that the woman perked up and instantly became her BFF asking questions like, “Are you guys identical?” “Do you share clothes?!” “How old are you three?”
“I was laughing in my head, but I had to say it because it always works,” Megan said. We both laughed, it’s true. It always works.
It’s never been anything that huge, just some great treatment from an HR woman while interviewing or good service at the bar where they serve my favorite nachos. Who am I to decline though? If you’re going to give me something or be extra courteous because my mom and dad were super fertile in the late 80s, I’ll take it.
What has this done to my ego? I can barely get through a door when the three of us are together. My ego is huge. It’s kind of like a game. We bounce around in conversation, we make fun of one another, we laugh, we entertain and it’s really quite something. We could charge for a show.
But, when we aren’t together, sometimes, a lot of times, my ego shrinks to penny-sized.
I’ve always been afraid that I am not enough by myself, that I need one or both of my sisters, my old womb-mates, by my side to be liked and be enough for people. Sometimes I really think I can't function or be enough without them.
When I was younger I’d always tell my mom, “She or he doesn’t even like me.”
She’d fast correct me with “Oh, stop, yes they do!” Where did I get that idea?
A lot of times and still today I will see a friend, relative, or a random acquaintance and before they even say hi to me, they will ask, “Where is Megan?” or “Where is Melanie?” or “Are you alone?” as they look over my shoulder for the other ducklings.
What is that? I don’t understand, am I not enough? Do you need to see the three of us to be fully satisfied?
I also feel insecure when I’m unaccompanied because I’ve always had them to fall back on in any situation. If I’m uncomfortable or tired of talking to you, or the weird man at the airport, or the teacher I had in fifth grade that we see at the local grocery store, I just look at one of my sisters and they pick it up for me. It’s an unsaid rule.
Me being alone means I have to carry all my conversations, and that makes me tired and insecure. I’m not used to it. I don’t have that safety net anymore so I get scared of all the eye contact. I’m used to being interrupted, talked over, and sharing all my conversations, and sometimes I feel I just can’t do it alone.
The three of us went through the same things at basically the same time; being born, losing teeth, elementary school, middle school (ugh) braces, first periods, high school, friend issues, sports and, and, and. The list could go on forever and it does.
We had a lot of the same friends, who knows if they liked all of us though. Maybe just one or two, it’s not like they really had a choice. Did the friends who liked us all always want to play with ALL of us? Or was it annoying we were always together?
We all made the varsity basketball team, and then I was moved down to JV, then back to Varsity. Did they allow me to play on varsity because they thought I would be crushed because my sisters made the team wholly and I didn’t? Was it a pity thing?
I got invited to a birthday party and so did Melanie and Megan. Who did that friend really want to invite before their mom stepped in and said, “If you have one you have to have the other two too!” How many birthdays did I get denied from because of having the two nuts following close behind me? We were seen as a package deal. You see where a girl’s confidence could get lost in a web like this?
We wore matching clothes until sixth grade, so at least we were a cute pile of dysfunction. Who was I though? I had no idea. I just knew I was one of the triplets, one of the girls who wore the “pink version” of the outfit, while Megan and Melanie were the red and yellow versions.
We had the same haircut, same bicycles, same little baby blankets, same skirted swim suits, same, same, same! Matching, matching, matching. It was one big tornado of identical. We even shared a bedroom until age 18. (We talked all night -- I’ll write another essay about those conversations) My identity was always wrapped into the "other two" whether I liked it or not.
This was all I knew and I loved it. I still do. I am now just realizing at 24-and-a-half that we three are so far from normal it is not even funny. Our relationship is one of a kind, it's light and dark, it's a gift from the cosmos and a curse from the evils. It's all sorts of things; it’s group doctor visits, prom dresses times three and sharing sandwiches for the rest of our lives. I don't think anyone else besides the three of us can even begin to understand it. Sometimes we even confuse ourselves.
Can I be completely independent from my other thirds? I’m sure I can, I'll try my hardest. Of course I’ll miss my two BFFs and I’ll miss the conversations started with, “Are you guys triplets?” Not so shockingly, no one asks me that when I’m alone.
I know when it comes down to it that I am a cool gal and I am able to be alone and liked for being me; but there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t question and doubt all that. I’ll have to take that in stride, I hope that life will allow me to grow in that way.
I’m still at the airport in Dallas Fort Worth -- For the past seven hours I’ve been a lone wolf, an orca separated from its pod, an independent woman. It’s so weird. No one is running their suitcase over my toes in the security line, I don’t have to buy coffee for two others, my sisters aren’t taking pictures of me while I sleep at gate G, or bitching at me because I’m wearing their bra. I can’t say that I like it, not yet.
I know that the time in our lives that I briefly explained above is pretty much ending, and could soon be over. We will all be taking on the world away from each other soon and all in different ways. Melanie wants to coach and teach, Megan wants to write and is finishing school and I am in San Diego applying to media jobs. We will have boyfriends, get married, have kids, move across the country, have fights -- etc. etc. etc. We are growing up and sadly growing apart.
What I do know is that my sisters will be there for me whenever I need them, as always. We will get through whatever the world gives us together, even if we aren’t actually together.