I sometimes wonder what if? It creeps up on me when I find myself slowin’ down, when the quiet sneaks in and catches up with me. Tonight is one of those nights when I've been caught and I can't shake my thoughts loose no matter how hard I try.
If I'd done somethin’, changed somethin’, been faster, slower, stopped, kept moving, would my life have turned out differently? Should it have? Was there - is there - a reason for it all? Would I be here? If not, where would I be? What would I be doin’? Where was my life? What was my life?
Not that anyone would ever believe it, but my life hasn't been lived the way it has because that's just the way I am, although through repetition maybe it has, over time, become a part of me. I've lived the way I do for no other reason than because I've had to. It may be an extreme way but there's definitely some kind of self-preservation mechanism behind it, tryin’ to keep me from goin’ back to where my nightmares tell me I was. Maybe I've been selfish, distant and cold. Maybe I never let anyone close enough to call myself anythin’ but alone, but right from the beginnin’ those nightmares stole with good reason any trust I may have had before.
I don't know what I was like before, what kind of life I led. I can't remember and I'm gettin’ to the stage where I don't think I ever will and as time goes by I'm learnin’ to live with that. What I do know - and this may surprise some people even as they adamantly disagree - is that for all my faults, I am not the devils spawn.
I'm not evil, though even I would admit to havin’ done what could be considered evil things. I believe there's a difference between the two. The trouble is most people live in a bubble that never seems to burst; they just see good or evil and that's fine, as far as it goes, if you've never known anythin’ but black and white. I've learned the lines between the two are hindered by various shades of grey and nothin’ is ever that simple, not for me anyway. I've killed - and not always in self-defense - but never the innocent, never those who didn't deserve killin’. Maybe to some that's blatantly wrong and they'd argue the morals of makin’ myself judge, jury and executioner. I'd argue that I had no choice and I have no quarrel with my morals. Some things I could've walked away from, some people I could have let live, which means I did have a choice of sorts I suppose, but they were my choices to make and I don't think I was wrong. I don't think that makes me evil. I've stolen, but only when necessary to survive and I've paid back with interest every time. I've never used anyone who didn't want to be used. I've always known right from wrong, even if my version of it is a little different from most.
My remembered life and the way I've had to live it is one thing, but deep down I never gave up thoughts and hopes of trust, friendship, even love and family. I'd like to think maybe that's because I did have that once, that I was good enough to deserve it.
If I had it, what happened? What happened to me? Was I stolen and forced or was it my idea? Was it planned? Was it a case of wrong time, wrong place? Was I deceived? What was I thinkin’? What did I leave behind? Who did I leave behind?
Why me? Will I ever know? Will I ever find the pieces to the puzzle I can't remember? The clues are gettin’ older and as a result, colder.
For all my hardness, arrogance, confidence and 'I don't give a shit' attitude, sometimes I'd like to be able to say 'this is what I had', lay out a life in front of people and let them see that I was normal, had the semblance of a normal life before it went to hell. Whatever kind of man I was or am, I wonder if it's too late now, if you only get one chance and when it's gone, it's gone, lost forever. Will it only ever be a memory long gone and destined to stay hidden? Did I have that chance? Is it just wishful thinkin’, a dream of somethin’ wanted but never held?
At some point in my life was I happy? That's a feelin’ that's eluded me all the years I can remember though I've felt traces of it lately, it's strange - but good, even if it does seem foreign, like it’s brand new. But surely I must have felt it before? Maybe not, maybe this - here and now - is my chance.
I like to think I was a good man. I like to think I still am. Hard-ass maybe, delvin’ in grey, but not on the blackest side of bad. Here’s the kicker – I like to *think* it, but she says she *knows* it. Without a shadow of doubt. With complete belief. No debatin’, no thinkin’ it over. She *knows* it and tells me as often as I'll let her. How does she know? What does she see that no one else does? How can she be so sure?
What made me stop that day? Why did I do somethin’ I've never done before? What was it about her? Was it her or was it somethin’ that all of a sudden changed in me? Why was she different or what was it that she did to make me different? What is it that makes me want to protect her at all costs, makes me want to be with her, lose myself in her, never leave her? What is it she does to make me that way? Do we have some mystical connection, some power that neither of us knows about?
Would I want my life to be different? Would I change anythin’ if I could go back? Even if I could change everythin’ - take away all the pain and sufferin’, take back the life I had before whatever stole it from me came along - those very changes would take me away from where I am now and I have a feelin’ deep in my gut that I'm supposed to be here, that somehow, maybe, there's a reason for everythin’ and that reason was to bring me to her.
I wonder if I'll ever find the answers. Right now I wonder if it really matters.
Whatever I was, whatever I am, how I got lost and found my way to her, for all that's happened, what I can remember and what I can't – one set of deep brown eyes just has to look at me and I know I'm glad I'm here. Whether she found me, I found her or we found each other, whether by accident or some strange act of fate, I'll probably never know. The one thing I do know is –
I couldn't - no, make that wouldn't - trade any of it if it would mean bein’ without her.