img_8515In high school I had a BIG crush. Since my first days of having crushes on boys there has been a pattern. I’ve always gone for guys with a little extra flair for the dramatics. Following is a sampling of my past loves.

Example #1: Ryan*, third grade. During sharing circle he talked about riding three wheelers in the mountains. He had a cocky confidence I found extremely cool. He wore ratty jeans, a denim jacket, and his dark brown hair in a spiky on top, log in back . . .okay, in hindsight I’m realizing it was a mullet. During lunch recess Ryan hung out with his 6th grade sister by the back door of the cafeteria and did break dancing moves on flattened cardboard boxes. (It was 1984, the height of break dancing coolness.) He never knew of my admiration; that’s probably why he never reciprocated the feelings.

Example #2: Jimmy*, fifth grade. He already surfed! 11 years old and he could ride the waves. On weekends sometimes our families would end up at the same beach and I’d watch him from the shore, intensely enamored. He had the classic blond surfer boy hair, blue eyes, and lots of freckles from the California sun. During the school book fair I came in from lunch recess one day and found a purple folder with a kitten on it, glittery pencils with fluffy feathers on the ends, and a large heart-shaped card sitting on my desk, from Jimmy! From that point on we never spoke, but we were “going together” for about three weeks.

Example #3: Don*, seventh grade. After watching the Young Ambassadors perform for our Jr. High School I felt life would never be complete unless I grew up to marry Don, one of the male singers from the group. He would sing me to sleep each night and dedicate every show he ever performed to his devoted, much younger wife. We did shake hands after the show as the cast greeted their fans. I don’t think I looked him in the eye, but after that I spent many Social Studies lessons practicing my cursive signature, Mrs. Don Tanner, Heather Anna Tanner, Mrs. Heather Tanner, etc. I attended every Young Ambassador show I could find a ride to.

This brings us to high school and my biggest crush ever: Matt, twelfth grade. He served on seminary council, starred in the school plays, had a big beautiful white-toothed smile, lots of friends and dreamy green eyes. He kissed me on the cheek after opening night of The Music Man, at that moment everything slowed to a stop, a frozen moment in time. Everything but our hearts, which pounded with new love. We went to the Homecoming dance together and began dating in a very Utah/Mormon/pre-mission/High School way: group dates, hanging out, holding hands, and . . . well that’s about it.

Matt had a gorgeous, incredible, show-stopping voice. Sometimes I’d sneak into the back of the auditorium so I could listen to him rehearse for the next musical, drama competition, or school assembly. An old familiar fantasy returned, marrying the golden-voiced center of attention who would someday sing me to sleep and dedicate his every success to me. I was at his house the night before a school event as he prepared to sing “She’s Got a Way” by Billy Joel. He said, “I don’t know if I’ll have the guts to dedicate this to you in front of the whole school, but I want you to know that it is for you. Especially the line that says, ‘She’s got a smile that heals me,’ and ‘She’s got a light around her,’ those lines just always make me think of you.”

Yes, that set my heart to pounding once again. I showed up for the assembly, my best friends with me, all of us waiting for Matt’s song, wondering if he’d tell the world he loved me. He came out, sat down at the piano and filled up the auditorium with his buttery, beautiful voice-not a word of dedication. I didn’t think about how embarrassing it might have been for hundreds of my peers to hear an intimate dedication like that, instead I felt a little disappointed. I realized that though little things had made me feel that Matt and I really were meant for each other, maybe him singing to me, for me, in front of all those people was a little too much to hope for. I got over it . . .kind of.

Fast forward to last night. After several years of break-ups and dating, each of us serving full-time missions, finally figuring it out and getting married 8 years ago, going to grad school in Texas, moving here to New York so Matt can pursue his career in theater, welcoming three children into our family, last night Matt performed his debut solo-cabaret. He sang, boy did he sing! For an hour he told stories, sang songs, made us laugh and cry. He put more than a little flair for the dramatics into it. And during that hour as he dedicated many songs to me and shared our love story with a room full of people, I realized having him is even better than I imagined, because now it’s built on more than my youthful idea of dreamy romance; it’s built on truth. We are a family, an eternally sealed, bound by love and the priesthood family. And the golden-voiced, handsome, dreamy-eyed, big smiled boy I knew has made my dream a reality. (Well, except for the singing me to sleep thing. I don’t think that would work anyway.)

*Names have been changed, you know, just in case one of you is married to Ryan, Jimmy, or Don.


  1. QueenScarlett

    May 12, 2009

    I love reading about true love stories.

  2. Leslie

    May 12, 2009

    What a great story Heather- I love it!Laughing at the breakdancing on cardboard- I remember these twin boys doing that when i was in third grade- it definitely was the ticket to young girls admiration in the mids 80s– I would have loved to have been at the show.

  3. Kristin

    May 12, 2009

    What a sweet tale! And even better that it’s true…even if some names have been changed to protect the innocent. Glad you got your star.

    (And LOL on the mullet…awesome.)

  4. Merry Michelle

    May 12, 2009

    I loved this. I feel like a completely oblivious fellow Orem High class of ’94 grad, because I had NO IDEA you guys were dating (at least I don’t remember–maybe I would if I wasn’t under the ‘fog’ of motherhood).

    I do remember Matt as the music/theater golden boy of Orem High–in Pirates of Penzance, especially (he had quite a female fan club!). And I remember YOU being on the student council and being extremely popular. I also remember you both being very genuine, friendly and kind to everyone–in or out of your social circle. You were both happy, hard working, talented people and it sounds like you still are!

    I’m thrilled for Matt’s success in New York, and wish I could see the show. Your family sounds darling, and I know that it’s been no small sacrifice for you, Heather, to support Matt’s dream and cultivate it with him into a thrilling reality. The following quote reminds me of you two:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be. You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    Thanks for the permission to shine and the reminder that dreams CAN and DO come true!

  5. Sue

    May 12, 2009

    Aw. I’m a sucker for a good love story.

    Thanks for sharing yours.


  6. mormonhermitmom

    May 12, 2009

    Aw….too sweet.

  7. Faith Not Fear

    May 12, 2009

    Merry Michelle — who is the quote by? Love it!

  8. Angela

    May 12, 2009

    Let’s hear it for gorgeousness (both of you), and good singing, and love stories, and marriage. Thanks for this bright spot in my day!

  9. Roxie

    May 12, 2009

    I love your story!

    Isn’t it great when life turns out to be beyond our imaginations? I’m looking around right now and realizing that the 30 years I’ve waited to be at this point were totally worth it, and I can’t even begin to imagine what the future holds.

  10. Macy

    May 12, 2009

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Heather. I’m so sad I couldn’t get to the city to see his debut in person. I’m sure it was amazing. I love when a cabaret is about the artist. And thanks for sharing your side of the story in your way.

  11. Maralise

    May 13, 2009

    Congrats Matt on the show!!!! I very much wish I could have seen him (and you).

  12. Carly

    May 13, 2009

    I want an eloquent love story like that, I can’t figure out how to write “met at our byu student ward” in a romantic way. I loved reading that, thanks for sharing. I’m glad you had that moment last night, and in the heart of New York…it’s like a movie! I think your great, I’m excited to see you this summer….did you hear that Katie and I want to float down the provo river to re-live old times, are you in?

  13. Kelly Jo

    May 14, 2009

    AWWWW! I’m so glad Matt finally figured it out after your mission. I wish I could have been there for his performance. You two are an inspiration.

  14. Jennie

    May 17, 2009

    Love it! What a great story.

  15. Shellirae

    May 20, 2009

    Heather- I am so happy for both of you! It is so refreshing to hear true love tales.
    (And by the way, matt made many girls swoon in high school-especially the Pirates of Penzance club) Orem High was just a great experience.
    I wish Ihad been able to see his show.
    Good Luck to both of you.

  16. Erin Colleen

    May 20, 2009

    I love that I was there for all of it – ok, except for the actual recent one-man production. I love hearing the story, and remembering all of the ups and downs and events that finally brought you two together. Thanks for sharing. Love you.

  17. Emily

    October 9, 2009

    The cabaret really did feel like a love story. Heather was gorgeous and shining.

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