It has never been me on my own – it has always been us. My twin brother and me. Ben and Kate. Ben is my Bro Bro, my Brochacha, and my best friend, and he’s been with me through it all. But now, as we’re choosing universities, I’m already missing my bro by my side. For the first time in our lives, we might be going different directions.
He’s the only person who can make me genuinely laugh. I’ve never felt pain in my sides whilst laughing with anyone else. Even when we were babies, Ben would make me laugh. My mom remembers mornings of waking up to hear my hysterical giggles coming from our bedroom. Ben was making me laugh my little head off. This was before we had even learnt to talk.
I’m so lucky because I have someone who has been beside me through my entire existence. Someone who held my hand on the first day of Kindergarten. Who would hold my hand after I woke up from nightmares. He would reach across the gap between our two beds and take my hand, assuring me that he’s here, until our grip loosened as we were lulled back into sleep.
We’ve lived through moving house three times, living in three different countries, going to five different churches, and five different schools together. Always in the same class. Even in later years, as we chose different subjects in school, we would always have at least one class together.
As we moved countries, houses, schools, and churches, there were times when we were our only friends in these new places. Although our setting wasn’t constant – Northern Ireland, America, Scotland – our constancy was found in each other. We watched ourselves grow up as the background blurred behind us. We look back at all our memories and see how they piece together like patchwork. Each square is a new house, a new city, a new country, and the thread holding it all together is our twin bond, our family.
It’s been 10 years now since we last moved house. Edinburgh has become a permanent home. We’ve settled into school at Heriot’s, and we’ll soon be the oldest there. For 5 years as “Herioters,” we’ve competed and compared exam results, helped each other with homework, and shared the pain of early morning rowing. As we got our results back from tests, teachers would laugh and shake their heads in disbelief as they handed out our grades – frequently, we would get the same mark. Exactly the same mark. Just this year we both got the same percentages in English (93.5%) and Math (93%). Those were the only two subjects that we both took.
For the entire month of May this year, Ben was the only one keeping me sane as we studied for our Higher exams. And even this summer, we’re both studying at Harvard Summer School together: Ben doing Theoretical Physics and Philosophy, whilst I’m doing Feature Writing and Beginning Fiction.
But it’s scary. Soon we’ll be entering another new phase in our lives, and there’s a chance that he won’t be there with me. We’re two different people with different places we want to go and different courses we want to study. When we go to university, it’s likely that we might not even be in the same country, let alone school. We’re both wanting to apply for Oxbridge – but Ben’s Oxford and I’m Cambridge. Ben’s drawn to schools in England, I want to stay closer to home.
University life will hold new people, places, and challenges. Things will be unknown and unsettling. But new and exciting too. It won’t be easy. It’ll be overwhelming. And I know there’ll be times that all I want to do is hold Ben’s hand – just like I did on our first day of Kindergarten. But his hand won’t be there to be held in that moment, he’ll be at his own university, facing his own challenges. But there’s comfort in that knowledge too. Although he won’t be with me there in that moment, he will be with me. He’ll be with me, as he always has, as we both go into this new phase of life.