Dear Future Children: I Hope You Remember This About Finding Love

Dear Future Children,

We haven’t met yet, but I’ve thought about you…my whole life. When I was flying back from Europe for the first time (with your grandma), I wrote you a letter about why I hope you travel, and that you take more advantage of your passport than I did in college. There’s so much world to see, and while you’re out there having grand, exciting adventures, you might meet a boy or girl that you’re interested in.

Your mom sure has met plenty of boys along the way.

And though I’d like to meet your father, I haven’t yet. I think of him often, and everyone tells me (like your aunts and uncles and grandparents who you’ll love) that once I fall in love with your dad, I will be amazed that I worried about finding love. It’s a comforting thought, and at times, it helps me power through another date, but it’s also impossible to hear when you’re in the middle of what feels like a neverending revolving door of men you don’t want to date. You’ll understand one day, love. Continue reading

11 Brutal Truths About Loving An Only Child (As Written By One)

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 10.53.41 AMFor most of my childhood, I was bummed about being an only child. It was tough as a kid seeing all of my friends with siblings, and even when they complained about having to share, a part of me envied them for having a partner in crime. It wasn’t until I was older that I truly realized the special pros and cons of being an only child. Here’s just a few:

1. We’re very decisive.

I can’t speak for all only children but I was raised to be very self-reliant. From a young age, my parents forced me to make choices. Even as simple as “Choose between these outfits” in elementary school; they wanted me to be able to choose things for myself. Now, I know exactly what I want and I’m not afraid to ask for it. Nothing turns me off more than an indecisive guy. Continue reading

14 Reasons Your Dad is the Most Important Man in Your Life

When I was five years old, I marched into the living room in my Disney princess dress-up gown, holding flowers I picked from outside and told (yes, told, not asked) my dad he was going to marry me. Always one to play along, he agreed and my mom served as the preacher as we said our vows. 26 years later, I’m still hoping to meet someone who has even half the heart of my incredible father.

He’s gone from my prince charming and hero to my drinking buddy and unofficial financial advisor, but through it all, he’s always held a piece of my heart. That’s why he’s the most important man in my life, and will continue to be, until someone quite remarkable comes along. Here’s 14 reasons he’s the best:

1. He teaches you to be brave (because if you fall, he’s there to catch you).

My dad taught me to drive a car, ride a bike, steer a jet ski, and swing from the very-dangerous rope swing into the lake (Sorry, Mom!). Whenever I was afraid to take a risk – even if it was just diving into the deep end – he’d remind me: “You’re a Tigar, you can do anything!” I still say it to myself now when I’m scared. Continue reading

16 Reasons Your Mom is the Most Important Woman in Your Life

I'm thankful for getting to enjoy Paris with my mama.

I’m thankful for getting to enjoy Paris with my mama.

As a 26-year-old single gal, I occasionally have difficulty imagining what the next decade of my life might hold: finally meeting a man I love, marrying him, and eventually having children. My mom married my dad at 25, welcomed me at 27 and for the last few decades, spent her life making sure I had the best, most loving life ever. From being my personal cheerleader to my European drinking buddy, I’m amazed every single day by the strength, love and wit that my mom effortlessly brings to my world. If you’re lucky like me, your mom holds a pretty big piece of your heart and and a pretty big chunk of data in your phone plan.

So without further adieu, your mom is the most important woman in your life because…

1. She encourages you to always carry lipstick, gum and a pen.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl and when I declared this to my mom she said, “You better put a pen in your purse, then!” As I got older, she also suggested I always carry gum (you never know who you’ll talk to) and lipstick (you never know who you’ll want to impress). All three of these things are with me as I type this.

Continue reading

There is SO Much Love in the World

On Thanksgiving – and always – I feel so incredibly blessed for this little life of mine. If you would have told me five years ago that I’d be living in one of my favorite parts of New York, working at a job that I really love, writing for a dozen or so magazines and have an incredible group of friends, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Sometimes I want to pinch myself that nearly everything I’ve wanted has worked itself out… beautifully. Surprisingly.

Perfectly how it was supposed to.

Now of course, there are things I’d like and things I dream of. There are Thanksgivings I imagine with my one-day man, and there are certain visions and luxuries I’d like to be my reality one day, but in this moment, sitting in my PJs with Christmas music playing, my pup at my feet and my roommate cooking in the kitchen, I’d say life is pretty damn good right now.

So thank you. Thank you for showing me just how much love there is in this world. There is SO much, I can’t ever explain.

Continue reading

25 Things I’ve Loved About Being 25

A year ago today, I turned 25.

Truth be told, I didn’t want to be the big 2-5. In fact, the whole idea of being in my mid-twenties really freaked me out. There was something ominous about making the transition from fresh-out-of-college to real-life adulthood. Sure, I have been on my own for years, but when you’re a quarter of a century, it somehow seems way more serious than it did before.

But I really didn’t have a damn thing to worry about – 25 was (by far) my best year yet. So much so, that as I turn 26 today at 2:14 p.m., I’m secretly wishing that I could stay 25 forever.

Continue reading

My Dad: The (Cancer) Fighter

Last April, after too many phone calls from my mom at the hospital, I decided I needed a few days off of work and a few days at home. My father had three surgeries since that February and though my parents never said it was serious, something told me to go to North Carolina.

 Just go home.

When my mom picked me up from the airport, my father wasn’t with her. She was coy about the reasons why, just saying that the incision from his appendix surgery was deep and painful, and that riding on bumpy Southern roads was difficult for him. I wanted to pry for more details. I wanted her to come clean.

I wanted her to tell me what was really going on.

But she didn’t divulge and I didn’t press, instead I tried not to look at her as we drove the two hours back to Asheville from Charlotte, her blue eyes glowing in the traffic and car headlights. They looked sad and tired, and though I told myself it had just been a stressful few months for her – with the medical billing, hospital trips and all – I knew it must be more than that. My mama doesn’t lose her spunk for any ole’ reason, it has to be something major.

My dad was awake when we made it back home, but he didn’t greet me with a big glass of red wine, like he usually does. He wasn’t playing his music from the satellite radio that he’s explained how it works about a million times to me. He wasn’t asking my mom to dance in the kitchen, in their matching Kmart slippers, kissing her in the same way I imagined he has since they first met in 1985. He couldn’t hide his smile – that one that’s just for me, just for his little – and only – girl, just for his daughter that broke his heart by moving 800 miles away to New York City. But I could tell he was uncomfortable and exhausted, distraught and full of thoughts he wasn’t sharing.

Again, I didn’t ask too many questions, I just curled up in the corner of his chair on his side, like I always have and laid my head on his shoulder, careful not to touch the gnarly stiches I was afraid of brushing up against. He smelled like Old Spice and soap, and I let out the first big exhale since February when my mom called to say my dad’s appendix had burst and he was going into the ER.

Should I come home? I can catch a flight tonight? I asked, holed up in a conference room at work, trying my best not to think the very worst.

No, no. It’s not a serious surgery, she said. I’ll tell you if you need to come back, don’t worry sweetie, she said.

Two weeks later, I called my mom while walking Lucy, our morning ritual, and her voice was frantic: Your dad’s stitches came undone during his sleep last night, we’re at the hospital getting staples instead.

Mom, do I need to come home? Is he okay? What’s going on? The hospital again? I asked, stopping in the middle of the street as Lucy looked up at me confused. My mom reassured me that all was well and I should just keep my phone on.

Two weeks later, I called after work and asked about their day and my mom so casually said, Oh, your dad had another surgery today. No big deal, sweetie. Everything is fine. Don’t worry!

Mom, why did you never want me to come home when dad went to the hospital all those times? I don’t understand, I asked that night after dad went to sleep well before we did, something that almost never happens. What’s going on, mom? Again, she refused to divulge anything, and I dropped the issue, reminding myself that if something was wrong, they surely wouldn’t keep it from me.

Forever, anyway.

The next day we went for a long walk as a family and then to the Lucky Otter, one of my parents’ favorite watering holes. We sipped on margaritas and we all ignored the awkward tension between all of us, the big secret that no one wanted to say, but needed to be said. We made small talk and I tried my best to stay positive, just waiting for the shoe to drop and smash the conversation. I watched my dad give my mom the look to reassure her and she gave her encouraging smile, a quick nod of the head, and a huge gulp of her drink. My dad sat his down and said words I still hear crystal clear:

You know when I had that last surgery, Linds? He started. I kept eye contact. Well, when my appendix burst, they tested the organs around, just to make sure everything was fine and unaffected. And they found cancer. I had some of my colon removed and I find out in three weeks if it’s gone completely. They caught it early, so it’s probably going to be fine. I didn’t want to add stress to your life or worry you before I needed to. You’re an adult, you should know, but I wanted to protect you.

I thought I might burst into tears, and they started to fill my eyes (just as they are right now as I type this) and in front of all of the people at this restaurant, I walked over and sat in my dad’s lap and hugged him. And I did cry. He did too. But mostly, I just felt relieved. Relieved to know the truth. Relieved that his surgery went okay. Relieved that I would know his diagnosis in just a few weeks.

Relieved I was still able give my dad a big bear hug, as we’ve always called them.

And by some miracle of the best kind, his cancer is still gone today. He goes every three months for testing (I hold my breath all day long on those days) and he’s had other issues since then too, but he’s mostly at the end of a very long road of recovery. One that’s tested my mother’s patience, my father’s courage and my strength.

One that’s changed our family.

My father has always been this brave, resilient man in my eyes – someone that’s capable of absolutely anything, and who always encourages me to take risks. He’s lived a big, full and exciting life, and more than that, he’s let love guide him every step of the way. A true romantic, a funny guy and a tormentor – he’s had my heart my entire life, and frankly, it’ll take quite a man to ever compare to him.

And though ‘cancer’ is a very scary word, one that I didn’t fully understand until it affected me directly – my dad fought it. He refused to let it bring him down. He wouldn’t let it define him. A little over a year later, he’s riding his bike. He’s looking forward to swimming at our lake house this summer, his stitches cleared by the doctors and only a scar left to remind him. He’s planning a big trip with my mom next year – their 29th year of marriage. And he’s sending me letters every few weeks and leaving me funny voicemails nearly everyday.

He may seem more human now to me – instead of a superhero. But I treasure him more. I value his advice, his words and just being able to hear his voice. I think about him more often and I miss him more than before. And though I didn’t think it was possible, I’m a bigger daddy’s girl at 25 than I probably was at 12.

On Father’s Day and every day, I’m thankful for the wonderful, incredible and loving man that I’m lucky enough to call dad. I can’t wait to introduce him to the man I’ll marry, call him when I get that book deal (and yes dad, buy you a new boat when I do), and watch him hold my future children.

Thanks for teaching me to never, ever give up. And dad – thank you for never giving up either. I love you from NYC and back, and I’ll always be your butterfly.

Burgers and beers with dad in NYC, 2013

Burgers and beers with dad in NYC, 2013

My first half-marathon in October 2013

My first half-marathon in October 2013

Labor Day weekend, 2013

Labor Day weekend, 2013

Dad's attempt at the selfie.

Dad’s attempt at the selfie.

First trip to NYC!

First trip to NYC!

First photo at home together

First photo at home together

Hamming it with daddy at 2

Hamming it with daddy at 2

Right after the big news at the Lucky Otter. Cheers to life!

Right after the big news at the Lucky Otter. Cheers to life!

Christmas in NYC, 2013

Christmas in NYC, 2013

"Holding" my bottle at 1 week old.

“Holding” my bottle at 1 week old.