As part of a series alongside Valentine’s Day, we’re featuring stories about UF couples, past and present, called “Findlay Faithfuls.” Did you meet the love of your life on campus? We want to hear about it! Share your story via Facebook or Twitter using #IHeartUFindlay #FindlayFaithfuls.
Jared Matte ’17 and Meghan (Lasher) Matte ’18 have hearts that were seemingly destined to be together.
When the pair met during one of the very first rehearsals for the University of Findlay’s theatre department production of The Addams Family back in 2017, many people told them as much. According to Meghan, the certainty of them ending up together was nearly willed by the classmates and faculty surrounding her. It not only got brought up at rehearsals, it got brought up in classes and everywhere in between. “I had a class with the musical director, [Vikki McClurkin], who regularly asked in front of the whole class (which, thankfully, Jared wasn’t in) if we were dating yet,” Meghan said. “When I finally told her we were dating I remember her jumping, clapping her hands, and saying, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Wonderful!’ about a thousand times.”
And so it was, the birth of a couple of “Findlay Faithfuls.” And no one is happier about it than the Mattes, newly married as of December 2020, and beginning their meaningful lives and productive careers during a pandemic that has shown them and those around them just how important their joined hearts can be.
Upon their first fateful meeting, Jared was “the new kid in the theatre” group, having, at nearly six and a half feet tall, been appropriately cast as what the character description detailed as the “giant” manservant Lurch in the Addams Family musical. Meghan, who was cast as Morticia Addams, the matriarch of the family, said that she was curious about Jared’s larger-than-life presence, so she asked him how he had found his way to the rehearsals and a conversation bloomed. Love, however, did not. At least, not right away. “That semester, Jared was most definitely interested first and I had it in my mind that he was really just the coolest friend a person could ask for,” Meghan added. “I was skeptical.”
As their inevitable reminders that the pair’s existence as “more-than-friends” persisted, Meghan worked hard to dispel her colleagues’ notions. “I actually denied it like my life depended on it,” she said. Still, after the musical ended, Jared used the leverage from those resolute thespians to his advantage, eventually asking Meghan if he could make her dinner one night. It was unofficially their first date, and what began as a friendship was at last beginning to turn the corner. There was flirting during this dinner, the pair confessed, with banter back and forth about how good the food really was. “The food he made was amazing,” Meghan said, “but I told him I thought he could do better.” It was a not-so-transparent attempt at another opportunity to get together, and it worked like a charm.
The couple continued to date, frequently heading to Jazzman’s on campus to “grab a blueberry green tea with no ice” and sit at the bell tower to do homework, walking in nearby Swale Park, and taking regular trips to the Findlay reservoir to talk and spend some time outdoors. It was enjoyable, the way young love often is, moving along without the weight of much thought as to what might come next or how serious things might eventually get.
An apparent turning point in the new relationship, and one that clearly indicated what kind of a man Jared was, was when the pair traveled to Meghan’s home state of Indiana during that first year they were together. The pair were both initially excited to go, planning to have some fun, and for Jared to spend some time with Meghan’s family, getting to know them more in the way only being around people in physical presence can achieve. Just before they were set to go, however, Meghan learned that an uncle had passed away, one that her younger brother was particularly fond of. Jared, in a testament to both his makeup as a young man and his heart for Meghan, agreed to go and attend the visitation and funeral, knowing that he would know no one other than her. Through a memory of the night before the funeral, Meghan shared that she “overheard Jared talking with [her] brother about how he had lost his own grandfather and that he understood how he felt – even though he had spent maybe 30 minutes with [her] brother up to this point. Jared took it upon himself to make sure my brother had someone to lean on throughout the week. This spoke about how genuine and caring he was to an absolute stranger.” As tough as it was for everyone involved, the moment proved for Jared and Meghan to be the beginning of a very special relationship. “That was the first time I thought to myself that I might love him,” Meghan confessed.
They graduated from UF one year apart – Jared in 2017 with a degree from the then-known Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Management Program, now the Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability program at UF, and Meghan in 2018 with a social work degree – and weathered the distance between them during the intermittent, with Jared moving to Arizona and Meghan making her way between home state Indiana and UF. After Meghan’s graduation, she made the move to Phoenix so that they could be together. It was there, in Sedona in December of 2019, that “the biggest surprise Jared has pulled off in his life and the only surprise I have ever been happy about” transpired, said Meghan. The pair, along with some friends, traversed the beautiful area, seeing one miracle of nature after another; unbeknownst to Meghan, Jared had a ring in his pocket the whole time, “waiting for the perfect opportunity with a beautiful background.” He dropped to one knee on Broken Arrow trail standing on a giant rock and asked; Meghan said yes, and the future was set.
When two hearts are seemingly compelled to be meshed like those of Jared and Meghan, there isn’t much that can stand in the way of their adjoining, not even the COVID pandemic that has derailed many plans for many folks. The term “COVID Wedding” is one that likely does not sound appealing to many young couples, but for the Mattes, there was special meaning behind not waiting for a more “normal” period of time to be wed. “Jared picked December as a date because we met in the winter and 12/12/2020 is very easy to remember,” Meghan explained. “We were surrounded by our loved ones in person and also online since we decided to stream our wedding due to the pandemic. It was absolutely everything we could have dreamed of given the circumstances. We got married in my childhood church and held our ‘after party’ at my parents’ house due to COVID not allowing us to carry out the reception we had planned.”
And just short of two months later, Jared and Meghan are currently living in Phoenix enjoying, Meghan said, “all of the adventure the state has to offer.” Jared works for the Maricopa County Environmental Services as a health inspector, and serves on the COVID-19 task force there, and Meghan is a housing specialist at one of the largest mental health clinics in their county. Both have been working through the entire pandemic to serve their respective populations.
“Two souls with but a single thought,” said the English Romantic poet John Keats, “two hearts that beat as one.”
That’s Findlay Faithfuls Jared and Meghan Matte; still, they say, making meals for each other, finding adventure, and reminding one another regularly how lucky each is to have the other.