I think I’m going to have a T-shirt made that says, “No, I’m not Heather!” Apparently I have an identical twin in this small town whose name is Heather, and every few weeks, someone comes up to me and we have an awkward interaction that involves embarrassed uncertainty on their part about my identity (they think I’m Heather, but they’re not entirely sure) and familiar irritation on my part that once again I’m being mistaken for this person I can’t track down. You see, no one knows Heather’s last name! No one knows where she currently works! They all know where she used to work and that her last name starts with an L, but the clues end there.
The first time it happened, a minivan pulled up to the curb where I was walking, pushing my son in his stroller. An overweight middle-aged man leaned out the window. “Heather?” When he saw my face, he apologized profusely, rolled up the window, and sped out of the sight.
The next time was at a nursing home where I’d gone to perform with a music group. Heather used to work there, and some of the old folks were confused as to why I wasn’t being as friendly as I should have been!
Then I was at play group and a friendly older lady, upon introduction, reassured me that we’d already met years ago. “I live across from Ross and Susan!” I must have looked quite blank, but then I realized what might be going on. “Oh! You think I’m Heather, but I’m not!”
I’ve started to cut people off before they get in too deep. At the hair salon, a woman sitting in the chair beside me said, “Wow, you look so familiar!” I launched into my explanation that I’m often mistaken for Heather and included my now-standard addendum: “Can you please tell me who she is?” The woman was sympathetic to my perplexing situation and pulled out her Blackberry. “I think she’s a friend of a friend on Facebook!” We tried to stalk her down, but the network wasn’t cooperating that day. I was no further ahead.
At the pharmacy, the cashier asked shyly if I had a sister named Heather. At least I give her credit for knowing I wasn’t the real thing! I got the same question at the apple farm last October. When the cashier heard that I wasn’t Heather’s sister, she let out a loud breath: “Wow, you look so much alike!”
Last week at the gym, a woman with whom I’ve had classes for months finally came up to me and said, quite awkwardly, “You’re not Heather, are you?” “No, I’m not!” “Good, because I’d feel really bad for not having said anything earlier.”
And these are just a few examples! The longer I live here and the more this happens, the stranger it seems. Where is this mysterious Heather? How many young redheads in their twenties can there be in a town this small? Even more amusing is that the questions of mistaken identity continue to come fast and furious, no matter my circumstances: massively pregnant, carrying a newborn around, walking with a toddler, out on a date with my husband. Either Heather is at exactly the same point in her life as I am, or we look so alike that people don’t stop to think about whether the true Heather is pregnant, or has a newborn, a toddler, or even a husband! I wonder if Heather is receiving similar questions about me and how she feels about the mysterious Katherine.
So, Heather, if you happen to be reading this, you know where to find me. I think we need to sit down over coffee and set things straight in this town, once and for all!