This Is How It's Always Been

A book release and some last words

One of my favorite memories of doing this project was in my senior year. I was talking to my professor Brad (hello Brad) about the random things Chloe and I do together. I was questioning if they were typical behavior. The first thing Brad asked me is if we ate dinner together every night. Yes, I said, with no hesitation. It was almost shocking that he even asked. Of course we ate dinner together. I cook she cleans and then the next night she cooks I clean. To which he said the only person he has ever had dinner with every night is his wife. 

It shouldn’t have been shocking to me but it was. I know right now it sounds idiotic to say, but I didn’t know I could have dinner without her. We have spent 24 years eating our meals together. There was no reason to stop a routine that spanned 2 decades. 

I love that story because it is exactly what I mean when I say I don’t know what it’s like to be a twin. I’ve always been one. We have done everything together. How am I supposed to know of the thousands of things we do which are normal? I did take to figuring out what was normal and what was not particularly common of our relationship by looking at different relationships depicted in movies books, or tv shows. 

For example when I was watching movies I began to notice common scenes. One that particularly caught my eye was couples getting ready for bed. Both of them brushing their teeth at his and her sinks. Chloe and I have spent 24 years brushing our teeth together morning and night with a single sink. In fact we used to link our arms like a bride and groom sipping champagne together and brush our teeth like that. I should have known that was a little bit out there, but when that’s how it’s always been you don’t question it. 

Twins has always been about many things, but my favorite images incorporate the humdrum of every day life because that’s what twinhood is to me. We are like a 1950s couple, we sleep in different beds, but we are somewhat of a unit. I know I’ve spent all 4 and a half years convincing my peers that we are two different people through my photographs, but since I am a twin I am allowed to say that we are sometimes, on occasion, a unit. Each image may not appear to be every day life of course. Believe it or not Chloe does not stand in our living room and hold a mirror for a few hours every day, but it still takes place in the space we share. One of the things I was sure of about twins was making work that did not overly complicate the nature of our relationship. The best way to tell people what it’s like being a twin is to show them us together. After deciding upon a setting or moments we frequently share I was able to then add in themes that helped tell the whole story. Taking a photograph in our livingroom is one story while the addition of a mirror is another. These stories then became woven together and inseparable.

This newsletter was supposed to announce the book, but I hated the formality of sitting down and talking too extensively about what the book is about. I have told you a bit about twins but I didn’t want to lay it all out for people. I like when someone sees something I don’t. There’s a truth to what they see even if I didn’t intend for it to be perceived that way.  

I also was going to sit down and talk about the process of making this book. It was quite fun at times and quite dreadful at others and to even pretend I could give advice on how to make a book is somewhat laughable. I have learned a lot by making this book, but I am sure that the next book I make will be just as confusing and hard as this one. The best advice I could give would be don’t give up. How cliche but it is still true. The hardest part is working through the rough drafts. Believe me my drafts were rough, so rough I called them “fine art throw up” because it was just every image imaginable in an indesign file.

A few weeks ago I finished my book. It was quite strange. I haven’t taken a twins photo all summer. I have gone stretches of time without taking photos, but never quite like this. It was certainly not because I finished. The past few months were about putting it all together instead. I thought I’d feel some sort of way about finishing. I am quite sentimental it’s almost a crime, but I feel more emotional over all the things that happened in-between. The memories conjured because of the photographs I’ve taken. Like crying hysterically every day leading up to my senior show for a week. It was a terrible week then, but now I can laugh about it. Thankfully. 

At some point the fine art throw up turned into draft one and then final draft and here we are. I have titled my book This Is How It’s Always Been. I am launching my pre-order today and felt that the best way to announce it was on this newsletter. It’s a two week pre-order and I am told currently it will take about 6 weeks for it to be printed and delivered to me so I must ask for your patience during this time if you decide to buy my book. My goal has always been to simply make a book and I met that goal. Selling it to anyone was a bonus to the dream of having it. So thank you to everyone in advance if you become part of that bonus. Let’s get down to the details: 

Book Specs: 

9.25X9.25in 

122 pages, 90 images

Sea foam green linen wrapped, hardcover 

4X6 inset cover image, (image seen above)

Printed endpaper

Images © Ava Williams

Foreword © Chloe Williams

You may buy my book here

I didn’t have the opportunity to thank everyone that helped me on this book, but if you have seen it at any stage I mean even when I was only making the images thank you for being there. There are too many names to list. Family, friends, friend’s parents, professors, pets. I think all of New York at this point has been part of it. Thank you for helping me reach the change that was necessary to declare this chapter finished.

A lot of people asked me surprisingly how I knew that the project was over. It’s one of those things I can’t describe much like twinhood. I just knew. Joan Didion has this great quote which I thought about throughout the process of this project a lot,

“See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do which is write— on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there…”

We still do have dinner together every night. I haven’t had the chance to photographed it yet. We don’t have a big enough apartment to have a table. I assume I will eventually document dinner, but it might mean a bit more than just a routine when I take it. Who knows, I have a lot of twin stuff to figure out still. I might even have another breakthrough. Much like that of the one where in which I discovered Chloe coming to class with me on multiple occasions simply because she was in the area and had nothing better to do, was not exactly the most common of practices.

The other day I was walking down the street and some girl I have never seen in my life stopped me and said 

“Are you Chloe?”

Turns out some of the things I think will change actually might stick around and even if it’s not ideal, I’m trying to appreciate it while it lasts. I have done my complaining about them only to then start the book, see the routines that have changed, and realize a bit of me misses those moments just a little. So while it is jarring to be confused for my sister, it does feel a little like home. 

You’re not giving yourself enough credit. I know this for a fact. So pat yourself on the back for everything you’ve accomplished. Even the things you had to do, like finishing school, finishing assignments, getting up in the morning. Everyone I know forgets to celebrate their achievements. So I hope that instead of immediately figuring out the next bigger and better goal you want to achieve, you find the time to celebrate what you have accomplished right now.


This Newsletter is Brought to You By:

My support system. If this book were made of the things and people who were there, it would be made of the very best.