I’ve learned a few lessons in my 48 years on this earth, but none more profound than this:

Never say never.

The truth of that statement was revealed to me yet again last weekend as I drove home from the grocery store. The car radio was set to 92.9 Shooter FM, also known as the “home of Texas country.” As I sang along to Shooter Jennings, I thought, “Wow, I’m listening to country and loving it.”

For many years, I swore off country music. Although I was an avid listener in my younger days, it eventually became a symbol of unhappiness for me. The opening twangs of a country song had the power to send me down Memory Lane to a place I wanted to forget.

Shortly after my divorce, I vowed to never listen to country music again. And I didn’t, for a very long time. I turned my nose up at anyone who professed their love for Nashville. When I began dating again, it became a very definite deal-breaker for any relationships I considered.

“Oh … you like country?” I sneered. “See ya!”

Around that same time, I made two other “never” vows. I swore I’d never get married again. And after leaving Texas for Colorado, I promised to never, never, never, never move back to the Lone Star State.

So many memories are wrapped up in sounds. When I was pregnant with my third child back in 1985, the song “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits was very popular. I heard it on the radio every morning as I drove to work. Although I liked it at first, it eventually became a reminder of the morning sickness I suffered nearly every day for nine months. Now, 28 years later, I still get nauseated when I hear that song.

That’s kind of what country music and Texas did to me. They had the power to remind me of all the years I was so very unhappy in my first marriage. In my ex-husband’s defense, I have to say the negative memories were not so much about him. They were of me. While he was not perfect by any means, I was a less-than-stellar version of the woman I am today. Not someone I wanted to remember.

But over the years, stuff happened. My children moved to Colorado and then moved away. Boyfriends came and went like the summer monsoons and winter snowstorms. And then, in 2009, my father passed away. Sitting in my lonely apartment with my little dog on another snowy spring evening, I made the decision to do what I thought I’d never do.

Soon I was back in Texas, sweating in the humidity and searching for a job.

By then, I had also started reconsidering my vow to never get married again. Living alone certainly had its advantages, like not having to explain my desire to eat chips and dip for supper or my need to drive around the city at 2 a.m. when insomnia became my enemy. But the disadvantages began outweighing the benefits. I eventually realized life was just no fun without somebody to share it with on a regular basis.

In 2011, I met my future husband through a dating website and we were married four months later.

Now here I am, betrothed yet again, living in Texas and loving country music. When I hear twangy guitar chords on the radio, I am no longer transported to that other time. My mind does not shut down on memories I’d rather forget. That life — the unhappy marriage and the lesser version of Kristi — has faded into the distance, replaced by the happiness I feel now with my sweet husband and the new and improved me.

I never thought I’d feel this way again.

But like I said, never say never.

Contact Kristi Johnson at kristij@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548

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