Wherever I happen to be living, there are some absent friends who are always present. I need only picture them to feel them in the room. One such friend is James “Archie” Hughes, Mississippi born writer and teacher, who has recently died.
I am certainly not the only person to have met James Hughes and kept him with me. I first looked him up in Thailand with my friend, Patrick, on a recommendation from Damien, our writing teacher and friend from New Zealand, who had become friends with James during their MFA at Washington University over twenty years ago. In Damien’s stories about his time in America, his best friend Archie was so vivid that we were surprised to learn that Damien and Archie had not seen each other or corresponded since their MFA. Despite the friends’ twenty-year silence, when Patrick and I moved to Thailand, Damien gave us James’s email address and told us to contact him, assuring us that Archie Hughes was the most generous-spirited person he had ever met, and that we would love him. We did love him.