The old man and I shared this view: a light-scaled bay, undulant limestone mountains, the mercurial sky, at once grey, at once brilliant white. We both agreed, It was a gorgeous day.
What we didn't see: whatever he had remembered, whatever I had remembered. This is the part of together, ever-present, that is private, one's own. We couldn't describe these things to each other. Our togetherness was transitory, limited by the parameters of age, place, time. What we could have said any other day, what we could have illuminated for each other, that remained mute.
I remembered every man, woman and child I had known in the village I could see across the bay. Now its rooftops were tiny nacreous shells, glistening between the toenails of those mountains.
In that place history spiraled around itself, intact, immured from strangers, foreigners like me. But nowadays History, everywhere, makes too many people into foreigners, strangers to their neighbors.
Once a Famine graveyard, now a hotel where I cleaned toilets for a few days before quitting. Once an infamous laundry "bad" girls never left, now an art school. Once a military barrack, now a restaurant serving Guinness and open-faced smoked salmon sandwiches to tourists addled by a time difference.
The old man got up, walked further down, sat down at another bench, arose again after some time, walked further away, and sat down again, to a infinitesimally different angle of the view.