I Should Have Been A Cowboy

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I want you to take a very close look at this photograph.

It appears to be a brown paper bag.

With the words “I SHOULD HAVE BEEN A COWBOY” emblazoned across the front.

In smaller print are the words “Zadig & Voltaire”.

At the top, is a small, transparent sticker with silver-holographic letters Z and V, and a crown, underlined by a pretty swirling pattern.

Through the bag you can just about make out more wording, which appears to be similar to that which is on the bag itself.

The bag is on a black and white marble-effect table.

From all of this, can you establish what this picture represents?

Freedom.

Escape.

Peace.

A reason to leave the house.

Probably not what you expected me to say, but this picture, and the contents, represent for me the opportunity to have a place to go to. A reason to go out into this big city in which I live. An excuse not to stay at home and mope about my life.

Yesterday I won a t-shirt in Zadig & Voltaire’s I Should Have Been A Cowboy promotion. I had seen it advertised in a magazine, and when I went onto their website and entered the competition, was happy to be an instant winner of one of their special tees. I had requested to collect my prize from their Notting Hill store, and so today that is what I did.

I have mentioned before that London is a tough place. This week has seen me be rejected romantically, given a grilling by my boss and other managers at my place of employment, get involved in an e-barney and telephone argument with my landlord over the gas being cutting off and various other unfinished works within the flat, as well as the realisation that I am unlikely to be able to move out of my flat and into somewhere cheaper anytime soon. Top this off with the fact that I had no money to go home for the Easter weekend, and that there is another two weeks until payday; that I faced a lonely Easter weekend, because my housemate is studying, and quite frankly, the only other two people that I socialise with regularly in London are both going away for the weekend.

I did mention above that I wasn’t going to sit at home and mope about my life, so I shouldn’t really go out and do it either. But I want to paint to you the picture of how I have been feeling after such a week. As someone who has suffered with depression “officially” for 14 years, and unofficially for probably another ten, it was never really questionable that all of the above would cause me to retreat into my Cancerian shell and hide until the storm has passed.

Slowly, I am fighting back against the harsh battle of London. I now have a subsidised travel card through work, which makes travel anywhere in the capital free, meaning that I can explore without the added burden of it costing me money I don’t have. A free frappe latte, courtesy of Caffe Nero’s loyalty card system, and my trip out today hasn’t cost me a penny. Getting out into the fresh air, even just getting out, and I feel calmer.

Having done a degree in American Studies, I spent many classes examining the myth of the cowboy. A lonely figure, who lives in the wilderness, but fights for the rights of those within civilisation who cannot fight for themselves. He must choose his battles wisely, and show the confidence to defeat his foe. When all is done, he retreats back into the wilderness; into his lonesome life. Like the cowboy, there are times when I will be a lone figure in the world.

There was a time, during my marriage, when I was 100% comfortable with my own company. Now, there are times when it scares me to be alone. I have to get back to being happy with my own company. Right now, in my life, my shadow is sometimes the only company I will have.

I am a cowboy.

So take another look at that photograph.

And know that it represents so much more than just another competition win for me.

I should have been a cowboy. And I have the t-shirt to prove it.

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