When I first met the man who eventually became my parasitic twin in 2015, we were very different people. As I already mentioned, I was a sober, quiet, student-athlete. He was a rugged, weed-smoking, beer-drinking mountain-man.
I met him at the Berkeley co-op not long after I moved in. We’d caught each other staring a few times. Casual interactions were inevitable, seeing as we lived in the same house, but the tension between us seemed to strengthen with each passing “hello” or “excuse me,” until it finally boiled over one day. I was alone in the kitchen, trying to fry an egg, but I had never used a commercial stovetop before and wound up burning the oil. Mountain Man was eating a bowl of cereal, alone, in the dining room when he smelled the oil. Figuring someone had left a pan on the lit burner, he dashed into the kitchen, but was caught off-guard when he found me standing calmly beside the stove holding a raw egg, staring into the smoking pan in wonderment.
He seized the pan and chucked it into the sink, immediately turning on the cold water. The look he gave me said it all: “Are you out of your fucking mind?” The answer was yes, apparently, because we went on our first date later that day. From then onward, we were essentially inseparable. After only a week, we abandoned our respective roommates and moved into a room together.
And then, something strange happened.
Usually, people take their first sip of alcohol, or their first puff on the peace pipe, or their first drag on a cigarette, while they’re in high school. Well, I didn’t. I did the complete opposite: I decided that I would never, ever, intoxicate myself. This promise was also a death sentence to my social life, but I was willing to pay that price. I’d seen enough of the bad side of drugs and alcohol that I didn’t even care how good it might feel to be under the influence—I wasn’t ever going to have that experience, and I was alright with that.
But when I met Mountain Man, that philosophy went out the window. I don’t remember my reasoning, if there even was any, but that’s what makes this such a strange thing: I was so encapsulated by his mere aesthetic that I let go of my most important core value without a second thought.
That’s how the parasitism began. I took the first bite—smoking weed because he smoked weed, drinking because he drank—and that was it: we dug into each other like cannibalistic leeches, discarding the uniquities that got in the way and assimilating all mutually-desired qualities. And by the end of October, 2015, we’d successfully annihilated each other’s individuality. We became, in essence, the same person—a person obsessed with mountains, skiing, cycling, camping, rock climbing, beer, bluegrass, and spliffs.