Over the next three years I though that Meredith had forgotten all about that wish of mine. But I was wrong. It all changed the day our school class made its First Communion at church. That evening Mom and Dad had settled down to watch a movie on the VCR and I was upstairs in my bedroom, playing a video game. Suddenly Meredith appeared at my door. “C’mon Joe” she said, “I’ve had an idea. We’re going to play a new game.” And she pulled me through to her room.
“Close your eyes, keep them closed until I say, and hold up your arms,” she said. Having no idea what was coming, I did as I was told, and the next thing I knew she’d pulled something over my head and over my tee shirt and shorts. I then felt her brushing my tousled below-the-ears hair and turning me around. Then she told me to open my eyes. And there I was, facing her mirror, in the beautiful white satin dress that she’d worn that morning at church. “See ?” she said, “You look just like a girl. Now you’re Joanne. And you can grow up to be a beautiful lady!”
Of course I should have struggled like crazy to get out of the dress. But I didn’t. I looked in the mirror and I was stunned. ‘”Ohh,” I whispered. “Awesome !”. And we both began to giggle with delight.
To cut a long story short, the Joanne game, experimenting with Meredith’s clothes, the more girly-girl the better, became a regular part of our secret lives. It was something I loved and it never failed to intrigue Meredith partly because when I was Joanne I looked so much like her. When we were a bit older, and in Halifax for summer vacations at Aunt Sally’s, we became adventurous. When Aunt Sally was at work, Meredith and Joanne would sneak out of the house and go walk around Halifax Shopping Centre which was close by. There was no risk of anyone recognizing us, but we did get to know some kids there and they just accepted that Meredith and Joanne were twin sisters.
Inevitably, as the years went by, a new problem developed — I started to grow more chunky and Meredith’s clothes wouldn’t fit me so well. We solved that with furtive trips to a nearby Value Village where we’d pick out dresses, blouses, skirts, even more daring things, sized for Joanne to wear. In appearance we still looked quite alike, the biggest difference being, of course, our hair. I grew mine as far below my ears I could get away with, but it was much shorter that Meredith’s who kept hers well below shoulder-length. Although I would have loved if Joanne was identical to Meredith, I was nevertheless always just incredibly happy any time I could be Joanne, and I didn’t spend a lot of time regretting that my hair length wasn’t really what I wanted. Until, that is, the day three years ago when Meredith burst into my room and excitedly told me about the Making A Difference project. From that day on being Joanne just got better and better.