My encounter with my (astrological) double

I have never been entirely sure if I believed in astrology or not. When it comes to personality types based upon the 12 zodiac signs I have always been extremely dubious to say the least: Dividing something as unspeakably complex as the human organism and what does and does not make it tick into 12 neatly differentiated boxes? So, for me sun signs are way too facile an interpretation in themselves anyway, but I actually have an even better reason for being a skeptic, and not only when it comes to the whole sun sign covering a full month but also when it comes to actual specific birth dates: My mother and I were born on the same exact date and two more different personalities one would be very hard pushed indeed to find…

So, the hardcore astrologically inclined person would probably say “ah yes, but your mother and you were born 26 years apart and furthermore you were born in different locations, so the planetary configurations at your times of birth would have been totally different”. A personal horoscope is called for, in other words. And there, I have never been entirely sure. Whether there could in fact be considerable truth in that? Given that it is after all a “uniquely yours” sort of a thing? Depending on a series of convergences that are hardly ever to be repeated again in the workings of the planetary system? And then, who am I to challenge millenia old wisdom anyway? If the people who put together Karnak believed in it, surely it should also be good enough for me? But then again, I have always wondered about all the babies that were born on that same night, here in Istanbul? What they may be doing right now? How their lives have unraveled?

I was out this evening, much against my will in this heat wave that we are having, but it was an occasion I couldn’t really weasel my way out of and so off I went. And I am so glad I did!

Now, I have an old student who has told me that his mother and I share the same birthday, not only the same day but also the same year. I had of course asked him, jokingly, if she and I were at all alike and he had pulled a lot of funny faces and said you two really should meet and bla bla. So, this evening, 5 minutes into my arrival, while I was hanging around the buffet trying to figure out when the earliest possible moment for me to split the coop (without too heinous a faux-pas having been committed that is) could possibly be, a woman approached me and said “hi, you are my astrological twin! I am so-and-so’s mother. I have heard so much about you!” Heat or no heat – this was as good a reason to stay as any I could have heard and so stay I did, of course. And as we started to chat it emerged that not only were we born on the same day of the same year but we were also born in the same maternity clinic; making it the same exact location – to a tee! (Which is hardly surprising it should be added: Good maternity clinics in those days in Istanbul were awfully thin on the ground, and so most women who could possibly afford to do so went to this particular one. I know gazillions of people in my age range who were born there, in fact). But wait, it gets even better: Not only were we born in the same exact location but we were born less than one hour apart. I was born around 3AM and she was born somewhere between between 3.30 and 4.00AM.

So there we were – the astrological doubles. Naturally, we did become quite intrigued by all of this and immediately sought out a quiet spot away from the crowd and spent the evening making comparisons; in short, more or less telling each other our life stories. Well, I told her mine – endless blubberer that I am. How much she actually divulged of hers, I would have no idea really… However, before I say anything more, let me say this: I liked her very very very much! But a person more different than me, both in terms of saga as well as (albeit very superficially assessed) personality I cannot really imagine.

She is a pleasant, soft spoken, reserved woman –  indeed almost self-effacing I would say. Someone who is a good listener and who asks to be drawn out before she speaks. Very attractive, very feminine, very subtle: A refined, quiet sort of being where you really have to look and listen before you become aware of her. And yet very authoritative too somehow? Me on the other hand? I am a bloody loudmouth! And what’s more is that all my rantings and ravings all too often come to naught in the end… So high on the effusive side, very low points overall when it comes to exerting authority! grrrr… But, all things considered, that “grrr” just now is probably not at all accurate in the first place: I do not really think that authority and exerting control are my things. Why else would I choose to (and totally relish) sharing my habitat with a pride of cats? Animals that are notoriously impossible to exert any kind of authority over? Ever! And even my dog, a member of a species that is supposedly amenable to following orders (moreover once upon a time a mangy feral puppy rescued from starvation and bitter cold; so one would think that she would deign to show a smidgen of respect out of sheer gratitude or something?), is utterly and completely out of all control! Spoilt dog extraordinaire I call her, in fact? From my astrological double, however,  I got the distinct sense that she runs her family with a pair of  iron hands gloved in ultra soft velvet – no less powerful for all their softness. If anything even more so probably…

She told me that she is very conservative in terms of lifestyle and tastes (she was all clad in a lovely two piece cream colored linen suit complete with a silk blouse – and the current temperature here is close to 30 degrees, with unbelievable humidity making it feel far worse? In other words it is so hot that I would not even consider wearing my Doc Maartens to a lovely party like the one discussed here? ;-). She said she is not one for much novelty and innovation (she doesn’t find much that is good to say about computer environments, although apparently she does have a facebook account and reads her emails –  but that, she said very firmly, is as far as it would ever go!). She is cautious to commit herself to change. Indeed she dislikes changes and especially moving houses. In fact, to my dozen or so house moves (some of which have involved continents!) to date, she has only moved twice: Once, when she got married in her early twenties – and then she only moved up the block from her parent’s home and then a second time in her mid-thirties to her current home, which is a villa on the Bosphorus with a sea-water filled swimming pool. (Needless to say, I have finagled an invitation!) But, all kidding aside, pool shmool, I would really like to get to know her better. She is nice! She is soothing. That’s the word I have been looking for!

She is a homemaker and a mother, and to judge by how her son has turned out, a very good one on both counts. She got married to her university boy-friend and dropped out of college and has been happily married to him ever since then. In this age where 2 out 3 marriages end in divorce? Wowzers! Me and my time and time again broken heart? Let us not even go there… There is one thing where our “fate” seems to have briefly converged though: At age 40 she tried a career change from full-time mom to going back to college and getting her degree and working as a PR consultant – just as I changed my career from art director to academic back then, at 40. However, in her case it didn’t stick. She did get her diploma and then promptly put it in a drawer and forgot all about it. Me? I plunged straight in and never looked back!

In her mid 40’s she did have a health scare and had to have massive surgeries and what not. Thank God, she said she is fine today… Me? I am and always have been as healthy as an ox. One thing we do share though: We are both heavy smokers (and in a country where a good 90% of the adult population is, what does that have to do with our horoscopes, pray?). She has tried to quit many times. I, on the other hand, never have. I like to flaunt my vices. And plus, I enjoy the blasted things far too much to ever want to quit. What else, that we share? We both love animals. But in a city where these days it seems that half the population is practically besotted with them, where one can hardly walk the streets for stumbling over all the food and water bowls daintily tended to by handle-bar mustachioed shop keepers, is that so noteworthy a thing in itself?

Another thing we share, and this one is probably far more significant: In our very different ways we are both productive: She, as a really good homemaker; me, as whatever – noodling around with all of my lives, I suppose. But the bottom line seems to be that we both do not like being idle. And another thing we share? We are both inclined to be fat. In her case, she seems to have gone with the inclination. Attractive as she is, and she really is very attractive, she is also overweight. I, on the other hand, fight: Recently someone sent me some photos they took of me in Hong Kong – and I was horrified! True enough, I had started to fast sometime back in May and at this point I am down to almost what I am supposed to weigh (“almost” being the operative word here, I still have a good month to go before I become fully presentable). But back in early June I must still have looked totally gross! No wonder I couldn’t fit into all those tiny little Chinese outfits! And I really wish that people wouldn’t do that btw? Send you unflattering photos of yourself? So ill mannered… So unnecessary… ;-)

So anyway, fat shmat, why is she so attractive? And what is the ultimate difference here, which has resulted in two such different life stories? I sense it to be one and the same thing, the thing that is so different to how I am and the thing that makes her so charming: To my doubting, self-harassing, eternally insecure self – she is calmly, quietly, wonderfully self-assured and self-aware. She does not fear the world like I do. She knows her place in it, her role, what to expect – but also what not to expect! She told me she does not dwell on things she cannot change, she thinks about the things that she does have control over instead. She is not shy either, hiding her shyness behind a whole bunch of show-off, obnoxious behavior (oh dear… I blanch as I read this, but I am keeping it in here anyway, so goes to prove a point!). To my indecisions, she has firm opinions. Once her mind is made up, it is made up and that is that, she said. And yet, I am the one who is opinionated (in my eternally floundering state) while she is the one who is so quietly self-assertive?

So, is there no good thing at all to say about me? When I compare myself to her? Actually she said it herself as we were parting, the good thing which I have: We had touched upon all this during our conversation, you see, and I guess she felt sorry for me in a way. So she said that there was something about me that she had admired from afar when her son was talking about me and that she now saw validated upon actually meeting me. She said that my whole being, the way I intrinsically was, was one that allowed for change, and change was what allowed for growth and that I was very lucky to have this capability of growth embedded into my core being. And so indeed I am lucky. I guess being able to grow is my one good attribute which makes up for a number of shortcomings elsewhere. (Of course, the flip side of the coin being that one doesn’t ever “grow-up”, because one is perpetually embroiled in the process of actually “growing”?… aaaarggghhhh…)

And I almost forgot to add: When she said that about growth and change I just about fell off my little perch! It is precisely what I was writing about Klein the other day? And no, she wouldn’t have seen that and nor will she probably be reading this although I will send her the link and already told her that I would be writing about our encounter – even gave her a short synopsis. To which she laughed and said I could write anything I liked but please not to give any names since her hubby is a very prominent businessman here in Turkey and she is rightfully concerned about any kind of journo-snooping that might aggravate him…

So, we were born in the same year, on the same day, (almost) at the same hour, in the same location! The planets were all (except the Moon who would have moved a tad in 45 minutes) in the same position when we arrived here on earth. And furthermore we are also both female, both from the same culture and social background.

The builders of Karnak notwithstanding… For me it just doesn’t wash folks! Never really did, but meeting “her”, my double, tonight, clinched it once and for all: I really do not believe in the stars!

What I do believe in is the value of self-assurance! Need to work on that… And work and work and work…


About this entry