In 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.