Midnight

The Sun Magazine, May 2000

Julie and I are twins in name only. True, we were born to the same mother in the same drab delivery room on the same Russian summer night in 1973. Yes, our matching high cheekbones and fair coloring betray our shared genes. But these are mere surface similarities. Underneath we are complete and utter opposites.

She’s a chain smoker; I get nauseous after two drags. She slam-dances at Prodigy concerts; I’m partial to Chet Baker. She is a photographer with a gift for capturing the sublime in everyday objects; I ruin Polaroids.

Jul is obsessed with proper hygiene. When she visits my apartment, the first thing she does is mop my bathroom floor. “How do you live?” she yells upon learning that I have not restocked my refrigerator since her last visit.

Jul has managed to stay a vegetarian for fourteen years by eating almost nothing but macaroni-and-cheese and fettuccini primavera. When I plead with her to try Thai vegetable curry or Indian masala, she replies, “I’m a simple girl with simple tastes.” I’m acutely aware of the current balance on my one-and-only credit card and worry constantly about how to avoid paralyzing debt. Jul is a reckless shopper; when she sees something she wants, she buys it, regardless of cost. Her faith in the future is implicit, while mine depends on realizing goals, meeting deadlines, crossing out items on my to-do lists.

When people spend any amount of time with us, they remark on how different we are — as if we didn’t know. “What do you expect?” I say. “We don’t even share the same birthday.”

I was born ten minutes before midnight; Jul was born ten minutes after.