Twinning: Matthew and James on childhood, their bond, and the future

Senior twins Matthew, background, and James, foreground

Matthew and James Owen are identical twin seniors at Amherst Regional High School in Amherst, Massachusetts. In addition to being students, they also participate in multiple seasons of sports including soccer, alpine skiing, and ultimate and their shared interests include cooking and hiking. Given that I am a twin myself, I was curious to hear about their twin relationship and also to see how similar or different identical twins’ answers would be when they were asked to talk about all aspects of their lives. 

AS: What do you do in your free time?

MO: I don’t really have much free time at the moment. On weekends, I like to hang out with friends. I like to be outside when I can. I also like cooking in my free time. 

JO: A lot of my free time most seasons is taken up by sports. Also, having homework and classwork. I often hang out with friends on the weekends, and I like hiking and baking.  

AS: Who is the person that has had the most influence on you?

MO: There are a lot of people in my life who have had a lot of influence on me, like my mother. A lot of the way I am and the way I act is because of how both my parents raised me. 

JO: Definitely my family and how they raised me. Your parents have a large effect on who you are as a person. Also, my friends. 

AS: How would you describe your relationship with your twin?

MO: Overall good. When we were small, we would fight a lot. When people ask me what it’s like having a twin, I don’t know how to answer because I don’t know what it’s like to not have a twin. We spend 100% of our time together. If my friends aren’t around, I can always do stuff with him.

JO: We do a lot of things together, because we have similar interests, and we share the same friend group. In a way, we’re very close friends. 

AS: How were you parented as twins? 

MO: My parents used to have me wear blue and James wear red so they could tell us apart. We used to have the same Black Dog t-shirt in different colors too.

JO: We wore different colors when we were young so they could tell us apart, but, that was only when we were young. 

AS: How did twinship affect your sibling relationships?

MO: I’ve never talked to my sister about it, but sometimes I feel that she feels excluded. James and I have had the same life experiences. We think very similarly; we’re always on the same side of arguments or problems. She is also the older sibling, so she would avoid us. It was a healthy conflict. I don’t see her as much, and having a twin has made me notice that less. 

JO: When we were all young, Matthew and I were not as close with Emily. It was always us two against her. As we’ve gotten older we’ve gotten much closer with Emily.

AS: Do you see yourself as twins or siblings? 

MO: I would think as twins. Just because that’s been such a large part of my identity for my whole life. Especially because even though we don’t look super similar now, people I knew couldn’t tell us apart when we were young. We were clearly not just siblings. 

JO: Twins. 

AS: What do you dislike about being a twin?

MO: If we have different plans, it’s hard to coordinate driving. 

JO: Not being seen as individual people, and being confused with Matthew, when people can’t tell us apart. 

AS: What do you like about being a twin? 

MO: I like being able to do things with him when nobody else is around. We share a lot of the same interests, so we can talk about things that we’re both interested in. 

JO: Because we share all of the same interests, I can do things with Matthew that I would do with my friends, and we’re pretty much available at the same time. I am rarely alone. 

AS: Have you been given labels as a twin? Like who is the smart twin, who is the athletic twin? 

MO: People have given labels but, most of the time it’s a joke and there is not much truth behind it. We’re very similar.

JO: Matthew is like the dark, moody one, and I am the bubbly, giggly one. 

AS: When did you guys stop being in classes with each other? 

MO: At Leverett, there’s only one class per grade, so for eight years. Elementary school for us was also two years of preschool and grades K-6 we were together. In middle school, we were on the same team so we had a lot of classes together. I’ve had some classes with him (in high school). When I have no other friends, it’s definitely a good thing he’s in class. But when I have a few other friends, and he wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be very different. 

JO: In 7th grade, we had every single class together, even 8th grade. But in 9th grade, we had most or more classes that were different from each other. It’s good that I don’t have every single class with him, but classes with him in it are good. It’s a balance. 

AS: Do you borrow each other’s things/clothes and if so describe how?

MO: I don’t really ever borrow his things. 

JO: Sometimes he gets mad because I accidentally take his clothes and put them in my closet, but no. 

AS: What do your fights or disagreements typically look like and how do you resolve them? 

MO: We don’t really fight as teenagers. Mostly just elementary school. 

JO: I don’t know. I know we have, but I can’t really think of any. I don’t know if they’re fights, it’s more like bickering. 

AS: What are your plans for college and does being a twin play into them?

MO: I’m mainly looking at liberal arts colleges in the Northeast, and James is applying to the same colleges I am. It’s not because we want to go to the same college, that doesn’t really matter much to me, but we just have the same interests and ideas. I hope I don’t go to the same college as him. I think it would just be a new thing to go somewhere where no one knows me as a twin. But also, if we go to the same college, I wouldn’t be mad. 

JO: Being a twin does not play into them. I want to go to liberal arts colleges in the Northeast. 

AS: After college, how does being close or far from your twin factor into your life vision? 

MO: Sometimes after Thanksgiving or Christmas, I think about how my mom and her sister are very close, and I wonder what me and my siblings’ relationship will be when we’re adults. I don’t know where I’m going to live. 

JO: I have no idea, because I don’t have a life vision. To be honest, I haven’t really thought about that. I can see myself in the Northeast. 

AS: Do you think how close or detached you are might shift over time and if so why and how?

MO: I hope we don’t drift apart from each other. I’m sure we will see each other fairly often. 

JO: I could imagine not going to the same college and like any person, we would become less close.