You are undeniably my first love. Whether it's lame or not, I can't help that my heart went to you before anyone else. And you've never let go of it, which I really appreciate. This unconditional love made me the person I am today.
My first memory of you (and what may be my first memory ever) is me at about three years old, not being able to fall asleep and my dad tucking me in and playing an old Alabama cassette on the stereo in my room. And I remember just constantly needing you more and more as time went on.
But I have to admit, there were moments when you drove me crazy. Like when it seemed like my parents were making me listen to George Strait and The Judds for the thousandth time. It didn't seem cool when they would dance me around the living room to stuff that wasn't really on the radio anymore. But when I play them back now, I can't help but smile every time.
Then you were with me when I finally got to pick out my first CD when I was five. Keith Urban--the man I was sure I was going to marry one day. And I cried all the way home when I heard the people on the radio announce that Nicole Kidman beat me to it. Then you were there for the mini heartbreak it caused, then all the real ones to follow.
And instead of being like most kids who would wake up on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons, I made sure I was up before anyone else so I could pour a bowl of cereal and secure my spot on the couch to watch the "Hot 20 Countdown" on CMT every weekend. Through those music videos, I learned so much about love, life, and happiness and the best places to find it. I found role models and set a standard for what I could be like. Strong and willful like Shania Twain, a storyteller like Carrie Underwood, or youthful and passionate like Taylor Swift.
You were there for my first concert at eight. The lineup was made up of my two all-time favorite artists. I'll always be chasing the feeling of excitement I got holding the tickets in my hands, or watching a curly-haired Taylor Swift opening up for Rascal Flatts with just a guitar and one album worth of songs.
I think you are why I made one of the most important decisions of my life. All my favorite songs became ones that allowed me to paint pictures in my head to go with the stories being told. So I finally decided I wanted to tell my own. You're why I write and why words mean so much to me. Yours were my first favorite. Our connection was as strong as ever.
And then it wasn't. As much as I regret it now, I spent so much time resenting what I had loved for so long. Throughout most of my teen years, when I probably needed you the most, I let myself believe you were all about nothing but trucks and beer and things I didn't care about. Part of it was peer pressure, and I think I wanted a world bigger than I thought yours was. It seemed so close-minded and I wanted to be more progressive. So I let Taylor Swift lead the way to pop music.
By the time I graduated high school, I realized I wouldn't have made it without you and all your profound wisdom. Like most things, country music is as good as you allow it to be, and I chose to make the most of it. You can be progressive and modern and accepting. You're wild and fun and always down for a good time. You can be serious and hit on topics no one else is brave enough to. With not much more than guitar, you hit all the bases with feminist anthems, love songs, tear jerkers, party jams, and everything in between. I'm glad I let myself be reminded of that.
So when I finally let you back in, I found myself reminiscing and feeling so upset that I ever let you go. And I feel like I never left. The artists I looked up to for so long still feel like family. Most lyrics have been engraved in my brain, and they carry so much more weight now that I've lived enough life to understand the depth the words hold.
You remind me to dance when I get the choice, to stay humble and kind, to have faith to fall back on, to know how amazing it is to feel like a woman, and to keep in mind that if I want someone to love me the way Thomas Rhett loves Lauren I need to be as unforgettable as she is.
It's been a love with butterflies in my stomach and long summer nights and thrill and wonder. You spoke meaningful words I needed to hear, and some that were harder to accept. With you, I've laughed and cried and danced the night away. You've given me reasons to dream things far beyond what's in reach. Our relationship has made me want to be the best version of myself.
Thank you for a love without end.