Me & Travis Tritt Knew It

Momservation: Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

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It doesn’t matter where I am—at the gym with my headphones on, cooking dinner in the kitchen, on the radio driving my car—I hear the first few bars of Travis Tritt’s song and something stirs deep inside me.

Because it isn’t just a song on the radio—it’s my theme song. From the first moment I heard it nearly 30 years ago to just now. I’ve always felt Travis and I could be doing a duet on stage together, belting out the song he wrote for us, feeling it with every fiber of our beings, smug in knowing we would be right.

“I’m going to be somebody someday,” Travis and I would sing together. “You can bet your hard-earned dollar I will.”

But hearing that song in 1990 felt very different then when I hear it today.

In 1990 I felt it was a prophecy. At 19 with big hopes, big dreams, the confidence to believe I could make something of myself, and going to college to back it up with the goods…I KNEW it wasn’t a matter of if but when I was going to make it big.

She had dedication, she had the heart and soul,” I heard Travis singing to me.

When I was a little girl that melody vibrated within me. I saw what others had around me that I didn’t and I was hungry to grow up and climb out of poverty. I would be somebody someday that didn’t have to wear hand-me-down clothes and stare at an empty refrigerator waiting for the first of the month.

“Late at night you could hear her sing.”

When I was a teenager feeding on a steady diet of Seventeen Magazine, like everyone else I wanted to be rich and famous and on the cover of its glossy pages, because I thought that would be the solution to all my problems. I was going to be somebody who could transcend the cards that fate dealt me and not be the girl whose sister died and parent’s divorced, but someone people admired instead of pitied.

She never said a word. The dreamer just kept on.”

When the song I heard inside me burst forth onto the radio in 1990, sung with the passion that matched my own to succeed, I think I cried. I know I recorded it off the radio onto a Mix Tape and listened to it every time self-doubt and life’s hard knocks took a whack at me; Travis reminding me to stay the course of my destiny.

One of these days I’m gonna break these chains,” we sing at the top of our lungs together.

Then when I graduated college, ready to start making my millions, the jobs had dried up and chasing my dream of being a famous author wasn’t going to pay the bills. Toiling in a job I hated I knew was not the somebody I was supposed to be some day. I hated that I had to defer my dream until I was more financially stable.

“People said, ‘Get a real job, support your family, ‘cause there’s no future in the road you’re takin.”

When I did finally try to chase my dreams, the rejection letters began stacking up. It didn’t dim the fire within me to be somebody someday, but it did make me question if I had chosen the right path to define myself.

“The road was a struggle, it took her ten years to the top.”

A marriage, two kids, a dog, and four jobs later, just as Travis sang, it took about 10 years to break through to becoming a published author. But I was still impatiently reaching to be that somebody. I wasn’t achieving the definition of success I had for myself: I wasn’t on a New York Times Best Seller List being interviewed on the Today Show with Steven Spielberg offering me movie rights.

Now when our song came on, Travis’ song cut me instead of inspired me. Had I bet on myself and lost? The “Someday” that once seemed like a promise, now sounded like the last call for a train leaving the station. Reaching my 40’s and not being the somebody I had imagined myself becoming felt like I let my young, dreamer self down.

But a funny thing happens when you near your 50’s. When you realize you likely have more years behind you than ahead you, your definition of “somebody” shifts.

So when my theme song came on today in my headphones at the gym, I paused as my soul reacted as it always had and always does when I hear it. A smile crept across my face as I realized Travis was right, as I always sensed he would be.

I had become somebody and the someday had snuck up on me.

In 2019 my theme song is no longer a prophecy. It’s a tribute to the somebody I became, better than I ever imagined.

I am somebody’s loving wife.

I am somebody’s adoring mother.

I am somebody’s good friend.

I am somebody’s doting daughter.Tr

I am somebody’s loyal sister.

I am somebody’s blessed aunt.

I am somebody’s reverent granddaughter.

I am somebody’s good listener.

I am somebody’s admired teacher.

I am somebody’s trusted confidant.

I am somebody’s compassionate helper.

I am somebody who hopes instead of being rich, famous, and accomplished will someday achieve the riches of being a mother of a bride, groom, a grandmother, a lifetime companion, friend, and beloved family member.

Oh, and I may be somebody who has written a few things here and there that inspired or brought small joy to people along the way…just as I always knew I would.

“Somehow she knew she was born to play.”

#TravisTritt #ImGoingToBeSomebody #Perspective


  1. Regan R Johnson says:

    Oh, Kelli – this story could have been written by any number of women, myself included. It’s when you told us how much our own stories matter, even if we aren’t famous, that I realized I am somebody to many people.

    I guess this Momservation can also be filed under the banner of what we are thankful for on Thursday (and most every day).

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