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the Paradox

the Paradox


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Double occupancy: Twins pack Nashville hotel for annual convention

Staff Writer

Some folks may rub their eyes this weekend, afraid they're seeing double. The truth is, they could very well be seeing double, and in some cases triple and quadruple, as the International Twins Association (ITA) has its annual convention here Friday through Monday.

"We're expecting about 100 sets," says Geneva Petitt, who, along with her twin sister, Jeanette Meadows, organized this year's get-together. "And it's not just for twins. We welcome all multiples, of course," she says.

Purely a social activity, the first twins convention was held in 1930. It was a way for twins to compare notes and develop friendships with the only other people who could truly understand their situation.

"When twins are apart, like us, we become more alike because we're not complementing each other," says 34-year-old Traci Seeliger, who moved to Nashville to be closer to her identical twin, sister Staci Hines.

"When we're together," continues Traci, "we're the perfect being."

The two just learned of the convention and are considering going. They recognize the value of getting together with other twins, because when they were growing up in Bradenton, Fla., there were four sets of identical twins at the same school. Later, at their high school in Lake City, their best friends also were twins.

That's a rare experience, though, at least for identical twins. While the rate of twins and greater multiple births is rising, due largely to women waiting longer to get pregnant and the use of fertility drugs that increase egg production, the incidence of identical twins remains stable, because environmental factors play no part.

And like many twins, Staci and Traci have no plans to be apart, though both are married and working on families of their own.

After high school, they attended Florida State University together and lived as roommates, but with diplomas in hand, they were faced with the reality that their lives were taking them apart. Staci moved to Nashville, while Traci stayed behind to pursue a master's degree.

They were separated for the longest time in their lives, six long years. "It was so intense," Staci says. "Traci stayed behind, where everyone knew her as a twin. I had to move to a town where I didn't know anybody. No one knew I was a twin, and for the first time, I had to learn how to be an individual."

Traci and her husband now live just seven short minutes from Staci, her husband and their 14-month-old daughter, Isabella. She's expecting her second child and — anticipating the next question — says, "We already know it's not twins."

The two sisters share a passion for dancing. Staci spent time as a cheerleader for the Nashville Kats before the team moved away. This year, Traci talked her sister into grabbing the old pompoms and trying out to be Titans cheerleaders. "I really wasn't interested, this go around, especially with a baby at home. When I found out I was pregnant, I was kind of relieved," Staci says. It didn't stop sister Traci, though, who made the cut and will implore crowds to cheer even louder at the Coliseum this fall.

While twins share a bond that's hard for non-twins to truly appreciate, they don't all strive for common denominators, such as matching outfits and hairstyles.

"We have a lot of fun at the twin judging contest with the 'least-look-alike' category," says event organizer Petitt. She also mentions a group of triplets where the one sibling who doesn't quite look like the other two prefers to stay at home.

Another important part of the convention is the surviving twin memorial service. Petitt says there are some twins returning this year who lost their sibling since the last convention. "It's very difficult," she says quietly.

But mostly the days are filled with the fun and camaraderie that the fellowship of shared experiences brings. It's a time to tell stories, like how Staci and Traci would call each other's boyfriends to break up with them. "It was just easier without the emotional attachment," they agreed. Or those moments where, for half a second, a parent or friend must pause and try to remember who is who.

It's being together, though, that keeps them whole.

Says Traci, "We're peanut butter and jelly." •
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    Cynical Optimist

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My twin sister lives in Metter, Georgia outside Savannah. :D

"Everything's better in Metter" is actually stenciled on their water tower for all to see and laugh at.  How corny is THAT? :D
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