Who I Should Have Been

There were many nights when Johnny would wander through the hills and forests surrounding the castle. He’d walk amongst the trees and find a quiet place to sit and think. Or so he would have said had you asked him where he went. The truth was a little bit different.

Different in the respect that some nights he never stopped to rest. He’d walk all night long and into the dawn of the next day. With no particular destination in mind other than wherever his feet took him he’d head out into the darkness in search of answers to questions that couldn’t be answered. It was his own walkabout, a semi-spiritual journey in which he found himself wandering.

If you didn’t know him you might have thought that he was seriously disturbed. It wouldn’t be the first time someone accused him of some sort of mental malfunction nor would it be the last. He was born with a serious case of wanderlust and itchy feet that made him crazy. But it wasn’t the kind of crazy that you needed medication or traditional therapy for. Rather it was the kind of thing that made him ask questions about life. He had so many interests in so many different topics that sometimes he wished that he could live for a thousand years.

The number was picked arbitrarily but the reasoning was sound. A thousand years would provide enough time to more fully explore the many interests. There would be time to be an archeologist, a doctor and a scientist. Plenty of time to visit the usual tourist traps and even more to seek out the quiet places that only the  locals knew.

And so it was from time to time that he found himself feeling crazed with the desire to just run. Sometimes he would imagine himself to be a wolf. A wolf who would run beneath the moonlit skies in search of who knows what. Setting off at a gentle lope, tongue hanging lazily outside of its mouth the wolf never tired.

I suppose that it would be fair to say that it took a particular kind of woman to deal with Johnny’s idiosyncrasies. Not everyone could handle the intensity of his presence or the fire that was ever present in his eyes. He wanted the description to sound mysterious and regal and yet he really didn’t care much if it made him sound like an unhinged lunatic. Contradictions upon contradictions and content to be consistent in his inconsistencies had been a hallmark of his life.

He was well aware of these things and conscious of who he was.

Some of his past companions had found the aforementioned traits to be problematic which is probably why they were no longer part of his present. A few of them had caught his attention in ways that the others hadn’t. Chemistry is how some people would describe it. There was something about them that got under his skin and made it tingle.

In his youth he allowed that tingly sensation to drive him. It was the primary determinant for deciding whether a particular companion would be allowed to stick around for an extended length of time. Eventually life experience taught him that he needed more than that tingle. He needed someone who would hold his attention in other areas. Someone who could accept the moments of wanderlust and his desire to explore the road not taken.

Over time he found a few who could accept him for who he was. But it was harder to locate the one that he could do the same for. There had been one who seemed to do it. One who had come in and helped to take the edge off. It never stopped to surprise him how she had appeared in his life. If you asked him when it was that they had fallen in love he would tell you that there hadn’t been a time when they weren’t, they just didn’t know it.

It had happened over night. One day she was a stranger and then the next she was the woman who tamed him, at least as much as he could be tamed. And then one day she was gone. If you have never experienced it than you can’t understand it. It is intentionally vague and ambiguous that description, but those who have lived it will understand the reference.

The walkabouts weren’t new to Johnny. They had been a part of his life for as long as he could remember, but it was certain that while she was around he didn’t feel that crazy urge to get moving. It was only when she left that the feeling returned and so they resumed.

He wandered back into the darkness and and wondered if he was living the life he was meant to live or if somewhere out there he’d discover who he should have been. But the thing that really drove him crazy was the fear that he’d discover who he should have been and find out that it was who he couldn’t be.

And if that happened, well then what.

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