Friend Files is a new feature I’ve added to Away With Words, this being just the eighth installment. I will be interviewing a friend of mine and showcasing why they are a friend to me and what I like about them, and also a mini-interview (five questions) that detail what they think of me. It’s a way to acknowledge my friends out there and what they’re up to and also introduce them to my larger group of friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who might be interested in reading.
Today, I will be talking about Richard Squires. Before I get into what I think of him, here is my mini-interview with Richard (exchanged over Facebook) where he jotted down just a few thoughts:
RICHARD SQUIRES’ FRIEND FILES INTERVIEW
ME: Give me some details about your life.
RICHARD SQUIRES: I’ve been married since 2006. My wife and I have a 4 ½ year old son and are expecting a baby girl in May! I’m launching a new business now, LifeStory, and I hope to get it running by the time the baby comes. I’m also a Language Arts and Writing tutor. Other than that, I try to work on my fiction—a novel, and submitting short stories—read, watch movies and tennis when it’s on, see music, play music (guitar and piano), and hang out with family and friends.
ME: How exactly did we meet?
RICHARD SQUIRES: I had the pleasure of meeting you summer of 2012 on the first day of our first residency at Stonecoast. I think I had just checked in at the Bowdoin dorm and was hanging out on the patio by the cafeteria. You came up to my room, where we each had a small cup of Dewar’s, neat, and chatted. You told me about Acid Shots and I said I’d like to try one some evening.
ME: What is one good memory you have involving me?
RICHARD SQUIRES: All my memories of you are excellent. You are a sweet and calming person, and you’re consistent, a quality that is important to me. But your moves on the dance floor stand out. When you are dancing, you are uncharacteristically extroverted. It’s wonderful.
ME: Why exactly are we still friends?
RICHARD SQUIRES: We are friends because of number 3 above, because we’ve built a friendship on solid experiences together, because we share friends, because we understand what it is to be artists—the struggle, pain, and insecurity it entails, and the tenacity required. And because we are both sweet people. Perhaps most importantly, I trust you.
ME: Anything you want me to plug?
RICHARD SQUIRES: I’d love you to plug my new business, LifeStory.
Dear Friends and Family,
I am excited to announce the launch of my new business:
LifeStory facilitates and sweetens the experience of writing an autobiography. Our staff of experienced professional writers conducts interviews, transcribes the interviews, and edits and organizes the content into readable and engaging prose while sustaining the subject’s unique voice.
The result is a professional, elegant, soft or hardcover book with pictures that is skillfully written in your loved one’s own words. It is the story, firsthand, of his or her most important life memories, milestones, and achievements.
Experts disciplined in interview methodology work off the premise that documenting family heritage offers immeasurable value for current and future generations. We all want to be remembered, to be understood. We want our lives to mean something. And we want the same for our loved ones. With their stories in our possession, we can revisit them, learn about where we come from, and share them with future generations.
LifeStory makes the experience of documenting your family heritage easy and enjoyable. The process requires approximately four hours, divided into a few sessions in which your loved one talks about his or her life to a professional and compassionate interviewer and writer.
A LifeStory makes a gift for any occasion and offers the opportunity to teach personal history, values, and lessons learned along the great journey in a format that is exciting and engaging for friends and family.
In order to generate quality samples that will help me market my service, I am offering a 60% discount for the first 10 projects. Please inquire to see samples of recently completed projects. I would be happy to email you an excerpt.
Additionally, please forward this note on to anyone who might be interested in this service.
Everyone’s LifeStory is important, not only for those who receive it, but for the one who tells it.
Pass It On.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Richard Squires, LifeStory Director
Richard is correct. (Ps – seriously, LifeStory is a really good idea. You should consider it, people!) We met in the summer of 2012. It was my first semester residency with Stonecoast, our MFA program. I had just registered with the faculty at the front desk on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick, Maine – and was waiting around for some clue as to what I should do. There were many people around, wearing nametags. I put my own nametag on and stood in the warm sun, resting against a rock wall and watching traffic.
“Hey, ah – you with Stonecoast?”
I turned to look at the speaker, and a young man stood before me. He was about a head shorter than I was, wearing reflective aviator sunglasses and a button-up short sleeve shirt. He extended his hand for a shake when I replied that I was with the program. I was a bit caught off guard as I didn’t expect to be speaking to anyone so soon.
He spoke fast, always darting his head left to right unless he needed to process immediately what you were saying. He reminded me at first of a fast-talking car salesman or Hollywood producer. We told each other what our specialties were – mine was pop fiction with a focus on screenplays. His was fiction, military stories (at the time, I believe).
We chatted off and on for a while, and then on the bus to the Stone House. When we returned to the dorms, Richard suggested we have a drink, as he said in his interview. Dewar’s. We chatted for a while and then resolved to hang out more as the week went on.
Well, during that week I didn’t really keep my promise. I had problems with my registration (I was somehow not listed as a student. They had to book a room for me last minute). My room light was broken for two days, flickering off and on like a street lamp in an alley on a horror movie set. I also hadn’t finished all my “homework” before residency, so I was up nights working on workshop critiques in the damp heat and getting barely any sleep. Then, on top of that – I locked myself out of my room somewhere around three times. When it came time to party after graduation, I was ready.
I introduced Richard to the “Acid Shot” – my unofficial tradition I partake in when I drink with new friends – sometime before the party. It’s an awful concoction – half Bacardi 151 and half Wild Turkey 101 in a pony glass (so basically two shots). We had a couple and went to the dance. Richard’s face when he drank one of the shots was priceless, but he appreciated the effects it had in a short amount of time and would often later partake in one or two during later residencies.
This solidified the friendship Richard and I shared during our grad school life. Eventually, it was revealed that Richard was a talented musician and he was in high demand right up until graduation, but we still hung out when possible. Richard is honest to a fault, blunt sometimes, even – which some people shy away from, but not me. I seek out people who are honest.
Richard is engaging, supportive (he called me when I was in danger of failing in my graduation semester to give me a pep talk), generous (he donated to my car fund when I hit a deer during my graduation residency and even just recently sent me a free subscription to Poets and Writers Magazine), and a good writer. He has a beautiful wife and family who supported him during his MFA endeavors, and I am very lucky and happy to consider him a good friend. The friendship we shared as students, artists, and otherwise will last a long while, I’m quite sure.
And now, I leave you with some photos relevant to Richard: