>IN THE OLDEST WAY, PART ONE

>He had come to the sea to think. To watch the water from the long, safe distance of his window, warmed by whisky and often little pills. His room was one of four positioned above a bar in town on a slanted street on Ireland’s east coast. He had never learned the name of the town. He had stayed there before, in the years before his impossible young marriage developed its unavoidable greenstick fracture. That relationship, full of rookie mistakes, as his then-wife liked to put it.

During the day, the far-off water was his companion, and by night—or what passed for night as the sun died off at 5pm—his company existed in the pub below: endless fiddle melodies, leather-patched elbows, and that indecipherable, lyrical language. He would sit, nursing one heavy stout or two, in the very corner, letting the slow rich atmosphere settle about him. He would pass the hours spinning a coaster, coaxing nods from the old heads at the bar. He watched the population of the small place grow, filling to capacity at eight, with musicians now mixed with drinkers, children balanced on arms holding hot steaming port, the whole place tapping one foot, over and over. And as the merry shining faces grinned their small-town grins, and as an inevitable shoulder rammed into his and as he was caught in the whole wondrous rhythm of it all, it made him irrepressibly, impossibly sad. And yet, every night, there he was, three plane rides and countless hours from home, voluntarily crushed beneath the deep gorgeous history—eight thousand years at least—of the only place in the world in deeper denial than he.

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