From the beginning A was uncomfortable with the label, The Cowboy. She said it objectified him and she did not like it. I giggled like the schoolgirl I appeared to be emulating, “But it’s cuuuuuute!” I countered. She shrugged.
In hindsight (goddamned hindsight) I fear the objectification may have been more damaging than I thought. Like perhaps it created a persona – regardless of its degree of accuracy – that may not have let the person be the person they wanted to be, or even just the person they are. That was so never the intent. But, you know, good intentions… bah.
On September 6th, I changed The Cowboy’s contact information in my phone to just say his name. It is a very interesting name. I removed the oh-so-Marlboro-Man photo that I had attached to his number as well. The new stripped down version of the man was just the man. What this means in a larger context is still being worked out.
I know that the man underneath the cowboy hat was enough for me. I also know that the hat distracted from real truths that may or may not have been pleasant to deal with, but I remain committed to my belief that they could have been worked through. I had been thinking for so long that I had created this stage for drama with my unintentionally intentional characterization of this man. I have blamed myself for not letting him be who he is. Blaming myself for every issue, every failure. And he let me. Today, I am no longer willing to assume the burden of these things.
Today I am also willing to accept that I may not be enough for him, or right for him, or whatever, for as many interesting reasons as there are stars.
I know that all it would take to try to make everything alright would be an apology. But I am done apologizing and the man under the cowboy hat will not apologize. It is not his way.
A friend of mine who is dating someone new has taken to referring to him in a titular way that keeps reminding me of how I spoke of The Cowboy. I want to tell her not to do it, to warn her, but I won’t. Instead, I will remain focused on these words offered in response to my circumstances (thank you Alex M.):
The first time someone shows you who they really are, believe them.