Sara interjects, laughing: “--We still do! We just went to the house, and Tegan's like, ‘It was under these stairs,’ and I was like, ‘Those are the stairs you wrote about? No. It was in the furnace room--’”
“--And there were key moments in the book that, along with the editors, we decided it was good, we were playing with perspective and memory, without fear of other people being like, ‘That's not how it went,’” Tegan finishes.
To the point: stories had to be condensed, and memories were shaped by 20 years of storytelling on stage. But at the end of the day, what rings true is that they were simply different people, having different experiences -- a somewhat obvious fact of their lives that still gets overlooked by critics. “There were misconceptions about how people imagined twins, sisters, our stories should be, like, we should have been best friends that told each other everything,” Tegan says. Not a bad idea then, to write a book laying it all out, serving as their final say on the matter, if they so choose. “We’re trying to unravel those misconceptions and reveal what was true, and what wasn't, about that time -- even for ourselves.”
That method also succeeds on the album, as the duo owns up to all of the lies they told back then. “I’m a liar/no one believes me,” goes the bridge of “Don’t Believe The Things They Tell You (They Lie),” while Tegan vents on lead single "I'll Be Back Someday": "'To the end, my friend,' oh, what a lie/Oh, what a lie/If I could pretend, if I could lie/If I could lie.” So why all the dishonesty?
“We lied,” Tegan says matter-of-factly. “We were liars! My mom is really upset about it.”
Sara’s nodding. “One of the things that was so sad to me was there were all these letters where I'm writing to a friend saying, ‘My mom thinks I'm a liar, my mom calls me a liar, and I lie to her every day.’ The theme [was] already there,” she says. “Back then, I was struggling with this -- I am lying to her, because the biggest lie of all is that I'm hiding my sexuality, so it forces me to tell all these other lies. Big lies, small lies. Drugs, to me, was a small lie. I was literally holding the most giant truths about myself from Tegan, from my mom, from my friends, from my family. I was lying my whole life.”
"Grown-Up Sara" couldn’t be more intent on telling the truth. She shares a story about leaving the garage door open at her house overnight, and waited a week to tell her girlfriend -- the longest secret she’d ever kept from her. When she finally told her, she felt like she’d been absolved of a murder. “Of course it's right there, both consciously and subconsciously,” she says now of baring those past lies -- and therefore setting them free -- on the album. “You're always processing it.”
Another form of freedom came in the way they wrote High School. Sara and Tegan didn’t edit each other’s chapters, which led to a few surprises when they read those accounts for the first time. “When Sara started reading my side of the book, she couldn't believe how I was depicting my relationship to my sexuality, that I didn't labor over it,” Tegan says, referring to how she dated a boy in high school, and had experiences with men well into her twenties, even while she felt attracted to women. “I wasn't a conclusive, like, ‘I am gay, that's it.’ But the profound sense of relief at finding what worked for me overwhelmed the parts that were feeling unsure about how to come out.”