How is it possible to return to somewhere you’ve never been? He was not just an entire ocean but also fifty years distant from Portland, Maine and Portland was another fifty years behind New York. Yet despite all that time and distance, he was once more looking at an island on the other side of a turbulent sound, just as he’d so often done from his own weather smeared window on Maiden Cove.
Jack Sullivan didn’t notice the girl who was clearing away the breakfast things from his table on a hill, halfway between Dunquin and the lowering cloud layer above it. He was peering intently through the dank drizzle and counting too many years since he’d actually sat behind the helm of a fishing boat.
He was also asking himself how any island could exude such a brooding presence, or maybe that was just Blasket and the weather. It just lay there like a sulking skulking hulk, more like a huge dog left out in the rain. It stank of resignation to an undeserved fate with the added insult of not being recognised, or acknowledged by someone who should know better.
He was in Kerry hoping to join some dots. Ideally, he would stand on the same patch of land his ancestors worked to make his existence possible. That done, he would satisfy his diasporic urge to turn over some of the same sods that they had, just to feel the dirt under his fingernails. That act might hopefully quench the otherwise totally illogical compulsion to come full circle.
Jack was a fisherman with an understandable disdain for farming and farmers, and this had injected more than a small measure of insanity into the whole business. It had come to the point of him seriously considering if he wasn’t being haunted across the ocean and the years. He’d more or less settled on the notion of some errant agricultural forbear committing an atrocity, which he had to somehow put right with his physical presence. It was either that, or the very early onset of Alzheimers or Dementia but either way, it wasn’t something he could share with rational people.
He was more fortunate than most Maine fishermen, though some called him lucky while others pinned less generous tags on him. Jack thought he knew who he was and he accepted that sometimes he did what he had to do to survive. That wasn’t to say that he wasn’t acquainted with failure, but that was yesterday.
Today he could take as much time as he needed and invest as much money as it cost him to discover who he really was. The briefest of smiles creased his face as he remembered his old Grandfather Pat telling him that only time could tell the whole truth.
There is another old Irish saying that says, ‘time waits for no man’ but apparently not this time.