The Greatest of These is Love

Stop holding your breath, honey, my mom said, squeezing my hand. I was stunned watching the swarm of doctors and nurses and then nurses and then doctors come in and out of the Emergency Room. One took blood pressure, the other started a drip. Another asked how he was feeling for the 100th time.

I wanted to scream at them to just pass along the information so my sick father didn’t have to repeat himself over and over again. I wanted to scream that I didn’t know that my surprise visit to North Carolina would end up in the hospital, trying my best to stomach my panic so my dad wouldn’t see it. I wanted to scream that four surgeries in one year was way too many. I wanted to scream that now, the pressure had broken not only my mother and I’s heart, but my dad’s too. I wanted to scream that this wasn’t fair and this wasn’t what we – the Tigar family – deserve or needed right now.

Not after everything we have been through. Not another medical bill. Not another surgery. Please God, not another surgery.

One hour passed and then another.

Five hours.

I wanted them to turn down these unforgiving, florescent lights and let my dad rest. I stood with the pashima I got in Chinatown last year for $5 wrapped around me, frozen by the air conditioning, while my dad – with a heart rate of 163 and climbing – was sweating. I could have sat down, there were two seats for my mother and I, and the nurse (Angie? Was that her name?), kept motioning for us to relax. You’ll be here a while, she warned. Take a seat.

But I stood anyway – right by the curtain, leading out out to countless other rooms, all filled with people. Filled with strangers with problems and illnesses and worries and fears – the anxiety of the place was so heavy that I felt consumed by it.

I wanted to run.

But I wanted my dad to be able to run with me. Instead, he couldn’t even get out of bed without his heart rate raising so high that he needed oxygen. Where was my father, that just last year, after beating cancer, could bike 10 miles on a hiking trail? Where was my father that was a far better swimmer than I’ve ever been? Where was my brave, unstoppable dad that gave me my sense of adventure and my thirst for jumping head first into everything?

Don’t worry Linds, he said. I’m going to be just fine. Don’t worry about me. He repeated himself every hour of so, the burrow in my forehead growing deeper than I’d like at the ripe ol’ age of 25. I tried to keep him smiling and entertained, telling stories of my New York antics and mishaps until around 1 a.m., when he was finally moved to a regular hospital room.

I have to stay the night, then? He asked the nurse. She just nodded and smiled, promising that we’ll all know more tomorrow. As the two hefty EMTs loaded my dad into the stretcher and into the ambulance to transport him less than a mile away, my mom and I held hands silently while walking to the car in the cold.

After a sleepless night, we arrived back at the hospital with hard candies and sweatpants, putting on our best grins to keep his spirits high. We watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit because it’s his favorite and then 19 Kids and Counting because it was on.

Would you want 20 kids, Lindsay? he asked. I wondered if the morphine was going to his head or if he sincerely thought I’d want that many children. I made a joke and he laughed, and the sound filled my heart with so much joy that I had to rest my hand on my chest to keep myself steady.

Let’s try to do a few rounds around the hall, okay? The nurse asked, unhooking the colorful cords that were attached seemingly everywhere. The three of us trekked slowly around, passing many open doors with sleeping patients. I tried not to look because I thought it was inappropriate, but I did. I later told my mom that all of the patients on the heart wing seemed elderly and it didn’t make sense that dad would be joining them. Sweetie, he does collect social security now, she had said.

How were my parents aging before me and I had yet to notice?

After lap three, my dad had to rest because he was out of breath. While he sat upright in a chair, thankful to be out of the bed, we all watched more Law and Order, and I held his hand, thinking of all the times he had held mine. Walking into grocery stores and to banks, down the stairs when they were too tough for me to climb, when I was scared of jumping off the high diving board, when my heels for prom were dangerous for my ankles, when the snow was too slippery. I knew I couldn’t support him now, not without a degree in medicine, but I could hold his hand.

We have to get you back on the drip and oxygen, Jim, the nurse rushed in and told us. I didn’t like her, she was too abrupt and not sensitive to my dad’s many questions. A team helped him into bed and got him hooked up to monitors that kept beeping, and then they talked outside. We watched them chatter, unable to make out their words. And then my mom and I looked at my dad.

He looked so scared that I started holding my breath again.

While I sat frozen, straining to hear the secret medical huddle going on outside, my mom raised and hugged my dad and whispered something I couldn’t hear into his ear. They stayed in a hug – or at least as much of one as you can have in that position- for a few minutes, and I watched my dad’s heart rate go down. 10 beats down. Then 15. Then 25. He stopped crying. The fear left his eyes.

They kissed.

And though I’ve never been married and I have never loved someone so unconditionally like my parents feel for each other, when I witnessed their embrace, I couldn’t help but think:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The kind of love that’s worth everything, endures. It is not about fancy dates or finding the most attractive person to wed. Instead, it means it when it says for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. It is not about romance and diamond rings. Instead, it doesn’t judge. It is not about having the most spectacular sex or having the highest paycheck. Instead, it is patient and it is kind.

It is the love that my parents have always had.

While I pray for faith in the universe as my father heals, and I hope for better answers and less stress for all of us, I rejoice knowing that even if I can’t always be in North Carolina to help my family, I know we have the greatest truth of all between us.

Love. And even if hearts beat out of their chests, there will be love to steady the rhythm.

Believing in the Unknown

I traveled to North Carolina last weekend for some much needed time with my family. The three days and some loose change of hours were blessed and bittersweet — we all knew the time was too short, as it always is, and the circumstances, not ideal. My father– the brawly fireman that fights as fiercely as he loves — has had three surgeries in the past six weeks. My mom has taken on the role of sole caregiver, bandage changer, and keeper of the finances, the household and the sanity, leaving her, unsurprisingly, a little insane.

With the kindness of my great job, I took off a day to help out and give as much support as I could offer. The trip was full of some tears and laughs, red wine and margaritas, shopping trips and steaks shaped like hearts, all underneath the transcending beauty of the bright blue Carolina sky. I always forget just how vast and endless it feels in the south — uninterrupted by the skyscrapers and smog, quiet and subtly enticing. I spent my mornings waking up early and retreating to our back porch, drinking coffee and just staring at the horizon, gulping in the fresh air and the crispness of the day. I walked barefoot with my family pup, Suzie, feeling the dew on the grass and the gushy, gooeyness of the mud in between my toes. I tiptoed from stepping stone to stepping stone to retrieve the mail and take out the trash; all the while my dad, sore from surgery, hollered out for me to come back inside. Then at nighttime in layers of jackets — my mom’s and then my dad’s because I forgot to bring one of my own — I looked up at the same familiar stars that I used to dream under, thinking about those same shining lights in Manhattan that I’d one day be part of.

It reminded me of being a kid. And I liked it.

Nothing can quite prepare you for the truly hard parts of being an adult– leaving the home you knew and the parents who raised you on hearty meals, boat rides and unconditional, encouraging love. Or learning how to save money for a future you’re not sure you’ll actually see, while spending enough to create memories today that you’ll tell your grandchildren about 40 years from now. Or how your 20s feel so incredibly long and intolerably fast all at the same time, making you squirm somewhere in between thinking you’re getting old and that you’re too young enough to care.

It’s confusing and maddening, and yes, beautifully educational.

At the ripe ‘ole age of 24, I’m proud of the decisions I made and of the zip code I selected — but as wonderful as my little apartment and job is, I still miss my mom and dad. I still long to be taken care of like and to be void of any responsibilities, cares or concerns. When my greatest achievement was catching those fireflies and sneaking a flash light under the covers so I could write in my diary. When boys only mattered enough to hold hands in the hallway and call you for half a minute at night. When your parents seemed ageless and young, incapable of being human, but rather all-powerful superheroes who rescued you from all of the bad guys – the boogeyman, the bullies and the insecurities that wrestled your mind and mirror. When time seemed like something obsolete and fascinating, when adulthood meant turning 22 and having all of your dreams already perfect.

Once you’re actually a 20-something, you realize that nothing is perfect and that maybe, nothing will ever be exactly how you planned.

But that’s why childhood needs to be sweet. So that when you’re sitting on a bus back from JFK on a Sunday night, longing for the comfort of your dad’s arms and your mom’s laughter, you savor the life you’ve already had. You can close your eyes, even if they’re filled with tears and your heart full of prayers. You can think about those memories to keep your warm and keep your hopes high. They remind you of where you came from and how you were able to be the lady you are, living this life you worked hard to create.

So that even when times are unsure or uncertain, for when you realize how little control you honestly have over everything, for when things change and so do you, you think about those possibilities you always knew were possible. You remember those people who told you that you could if you set your mind to it.

You open your eyes to look outside to that skyline, its dazzling puzzle luring you in, once again, to take another step. To give something another try. To keep believing in the unknown, in the things that have yet to come, the people you’ve yet to meet, the experiences you haven’t felt yet.

If you believed in them when you didn’t know any better than to believe in extraordinary, imaginary things, you can believe even harder when you do know better. Because that’s when believing gets tough, that’s when it becomes worth it.

That’s how dreams become more than stars glittering above your 7-year-old head on a chilly North Carolina night. That’s how you go from being a wanderlust kid to an adult that knows the unknown isn’t as scary as it feels, it’s where all the magic actually happens.

A Broken Give-a-Damn

The day before my college graduation, standing in streets covered with a slippery thin sheet of ice, Mr. Idea and I screamed at each other hunched under an awning a block from my apartment.

It wasn’t either of our finest moments.

It ultimately led to me throwing a high-heeled shoe in his general direction out of frustration, unchartered emotion and a little bit of booze. It didn’t hit him but he was astonished at my actions so much that he screamed (much to the dismay of my roommate): “You threw a shoe at my face! Lindsay! What’s wrong with you?” Equally as loud but through a thick stream of tears and unflattering nose-runnage, I replied: “I just want you to make me feel like you care and you don’t!!! Why can’t you just make me feel better?”

I’d like to say I’ve grown out of that immature statement but the truth is, I’m not sure we ever do. Maybe those totally-Zen, consistently healthy and one-with-the-world people are clear and peaceful in their relationships, but I don’t happen to be part of that demographic.

I’m emotional. I’m impatient. I can overreact. I have a tendency to overanalyze. I think people should give me just as much as I give them, though I don’t take all that much. When I’m mad, I cry. When I’m sad, I cry. When I’m furious, I need to take a walk (and apparently throw things). And when I’m upset in a relationship, as I was with Mr. Idea and probably as I’ll be with any man I date, I tend to think they should make me feel a certain way.

They should be understanding and kind. They should sometimes prioritize me above other things. They should have my best interest at heart and work hard at bettering my life, just as I hope to make their day-to-day brighter. Promises should be made and kept, not haphazardly planned and forgotten. I consider myself a great catch and you, whoever it is that I’m dating, should treat me as such. You should know what you have when you have me, and gosh-darnit – you should make me feel like the most amazing creature on Earth.


Well, maybe that worked once upon a time in never-never land, but in real life, in real relationship that are messy, complicated and flat-out irritating at times – things aren’t so cut and dry. While your partner should make you happy and positively affect your existence, they are not and should not be responsible for making you feel any way. And if you find yourself yelling at the top of your lungs, Jimmy in hand, begging them to make you feel differently – maybe you should check yourself. Check your emotions. And above all – check on the relationship.

There will be ups and downs and there will be fights. Hell, arguing can even be healthy occasionally and shows you how someone handles themselves in the heat of the moment or when tensions brew. But if there are more bad times than good, if you’re not getting what you want, if you’re not feeling what you want to feel, if you’re not finding that loving feeling as often as you’re battling the urge to run away – then what are you doing?

You’re waiting for someone to make you feel a way you can’t with them and maybe asking them to feel something they don’t. And if you can’t and they don’t, then the answer to your questionable exit strategy is…go. Breathe. Revel in yourself and in the possibility to meet someone who doesn’t frustrate you. Who doesn’t stand outside in the cold threatening to break up with you on the eve of your college graduation.

Because really, the only person who can make you feel the way you want to feel is you. The you who one day finds a love that doesn’t make you doubt or wonder constantly. And if you’re with the wrong one, you can never meet the right one. If you’re too busy fighting, you don’t have any energy to love. And if there is no love left, then girl, go out and find it.

And before you find it, find yourself. Decide your give-a-damn is broken and make yourself feel so in love with you that nothing else can compare.

An Unjustified Title

I can’t tell you how often I’m compared to Carrie Bradshaw. It’s practically an everyday occurrence now. While I’ve been home, my mom has even introduced me as her daughter, Lindsay New York, who writes just like Sex & the City. I am a fan of the show and of the first movie (second one wasn’t for my age bracket) and I do take it as a compliment, but I’d like to think I offer a more realistic view of a writer than someone who writes one column a week, lives in the UES in a fabulous one bedroom with a closet full of clothes and shoes that total up to way more than her rent.

But I digress.

This trip has given me the big ol’ dose of relaxation that I needed, some quality family time, and fun adventures with Mr. Possibility. It’s also challenged me to accept that fact that I’m in a relationship. You see, it took some encouragement and several months for me to admit to the blog that Mr. Possibility had become more than a possibility. Each time I’d see a friend who reads this blog, they’d ask: “So when are you going to say that you’re not…well, single?”

I’m going to meet everyone’s accusations and refer to S&TC, but I’m with Mr. Big on this one – I don’t like the word “boyfriend.” It just sounds way too…young. And referring to Mr. Possibility as my boyfriend just doesn’t have the ring to it that I’d like it to. And unlike Carrie, I’m not witty enough to respond cleverly and deem him my manfriend, nor do I like the sound of that either.

And this week has been full of introductions. Though it may seem like a big step to bring him home to meet the family, it was more a matter of convenience – there was a wedding I wanted to go to, I wanted him to be my date, and why would we waste money when we could stay for free? The decision was simple and the vacation has been pretty seamless…except when it’s time to claim him and really give him a title.

Why am I so timid about it? Why does it feel odd sliding through my lips? Isn’t this what I wanted? I did start writing this blog because I had obsessed about needing and wanting a boyfriend. So now that I have one, why does calling him as what he is seem so out of character? When asked by my friends, my family, and friends-of-the-family about my boyfriend, why is my initial reaction to dismiss him?

I think it boils down to some pretty huge differences that have happened over the course of this step-by-step journey to self-love. First and most importantly, I’ve done a lot of growing up, a lot of forgiving, a lot of detoxing, and a lot of re-evaluating my wants, my needs, and my fears. I’ve really learned more about myself and accepted myself for all that I am in the past nine months than I have in my 20-something years on this planet. And so now, though I have a boyfriend, though I do care about him tremendously, he doesn’t feel like the end all be all. He doesn’t make my sun rise and he doesn’t balance my orbits. He’s part of the light in my life, but not the light of my life.

And then there’s how much our story differs from relationships I’ve had before – in ways I’ve described and in ways I’d never dream of putting on these pages. We developed a friendship, we grew romance at a steady, relaxed pace. We took the time to get to know one another and we let things happen instead of forcing them. We didn’t rush, we didn’t overanalyze, and we didn’t place pressure where points could burst. We treated whatever it was that we had with care and in return, whatever we had turned into whatever it is now.

But I don’t want to scribble his name on notebooks. I don’t feel like I always have to hold his hand when we’re walking. I don’t have to tell the whole world that he’s mine for him to be mine. It’s not about being together as defined by traditional standards or by Mr. Zuckerberg’s updates that makes me comfortable with him – it’s just being around him that puts me at ease. And of course, the exclusivity factor is nice, too.

It’s not that we’re too old to be labeled as boyfriend/girlfriend, it’s just that I don’t think those terms are justified anymore. They are used so often and so haphazardly that they seem careless and insincere. I think partner is the preferred title. Because he stands by me, I stand by him. We’re friends and we’re more, but more than anything, we’re partners. We get each other, we get along, and we get what it takes to keep us going.

And introducing him as “Mr. Possibility” instead of “My boyfriend, Mr. Possibility” is better because it shows that we’re partners, that we’re together, without using the same word I’ve used since kindergarten. I mean, isn’t it time to switch it up? To grow up? To be a partner and not just another gf?

I think so.




A Dive Into the Unknown

As a huge adrenalin junkie who absolutely adores all things fast, dangerous, and super-high (heels included) – when I was given the opportunity to go bungee jumping last year, I gladly accepted the challenge.

The experience wasn’t in some exotic land off of a waterfall or a bridge into tropical waters – but rather, just part of the attractions at a North Carolina stupidly-small town that catered to the country-bumpkin in all of us. At the time, I was dating Mr. Idea and it was the only “weekend getaway” he could afford. Nevertheless, I was excited to be with someone who was willing to take the plunge into a large blow-up pillow from the top of a 65-foot tower.

We climbed a winding staircase chatting and mentally preparing ourselves for the moment when we turned the corner, caught a glimpse of the cascading mountains in the distance…and all of the people who looked super tiny below us. We took our place in line, and because it was one of the items on my ever-flowing bucket list, I wanted to go first. Mr. Idea stood behind me, tickling my waist, and pulling me into him – and I noticed a girl, probably around 13, royally freaking out in front of me. After a few minutes of observing her, I gathered that not only was she alone, but she really, truly did not want to nose-dive off of this platform like I did.

I pulled away from Mr. Idea, patted her shoulder, and asked if she was alright. She instantly burst into tears, said her dad was waiting below, and she thought she wanted to bungee jump, but now is terrified. My southern comfort came out as I wrapped my arms around her, reassured her that if she didn’t want to jump, she certainly didn’t have to, and that I was sure her dad would understand what she called “wasting his money” (Had he minded, I would have gladly given him the $25 fee that I paid). She tucked herself away in my chest and asked if I would walk her back down the stairs. Mr. Idea rubbed my back and asked me if I wanted him to wait, and I told him to just go on without me. Now, I was invested in this scared teen.

The closer we got to the ground, the more she started the breathe, and the less she cried and held on to me. By the time we reached the first level, her father had walked up to meet her, and hen she laid eyes on him, she spurted out apologies between sniffles. He just picked up all 95-pounds of her, consoled her, and ran his fingers through her hair. He then thanked me and she waved good-bye as they walked away, seeing me as this stranger who came to her rescue. I watched them leave for a minute before making my way back up the tower, my legs and my heart heavy from the exhaustion. And once I finally made it to the edge and the instructor was checking all my straps and buckles and giving me pointers and direction- I finally realized what I was doing.

I looked down at the ground with crowds watching, including Mr. Idea who successfully completed his jump and was now shouting up words of encouragement. I looked over at the instructor-dude, who did not look very charming or college-educated, or even like he cared too awful much, and wondered if I was comfortable placing my trust in him. I looked down at the many clips and cords wrapped around me and the wires attaching me to the tower and questioned if one of the never-fail contraptions, had ever, well…failed.

Clearly noticing I was spacing out, the instructor asked, “Ms., are you ready to jump?

Now, nearly two years later, I open my eyes and see myself on a slightly different platform that’s not as elevated, but the stakes seem even higher. My palms are just as sweaty, I find myself searching for intriguing excuses to turn around, and the support that promises to protect me from plummeting – seems a little shaky.

In every dating situation where imagining a future doesn’t seem so far fetched – there comes a point where you feel yourself on the edge of an emotional cliff and you have two decisions: to jump or to leave.

Once you’ve experienced this pivotal call of heads or tails, love or fail – you know what it feels like to be falling for someone. You can feel your lips curling at the thought of them, your mind wondering into their direction, your heart anticipating the next time you’ll see them or hear from them. You can feel it when you’re enveloped in their arms, reading an e-mail written just for you, or when you meet their eyes.  More than likely- your friends and family notice a difference too, and if they are anything like mine, they are inquisitive into the glow behind your beaming cheeks.

And with this realization that you are falling and you know you must decide if the jump is worth the possible destruction – you become scared shitless. (Pardon my language, but it is really the best way to describe it).

Evaluating the risk becomes a personal strategy and mental coping mechansim where you make deals with yourself: “Okay, if I do act like I really do like him, if I do tell him how I feel, and he rejects me – I’ll still be okay. I will still be able to get up, go to work, and make that happy hour on Thursday. I’ll be cool. And who knows, he may even feel the same way! He could be falling too! ” But then, your emotional side takes over and pleads: “But it will hurt!! OMG, Lindsay, don’t you remember what it felt like? You’ll want to go home, crawl into bed, and those 10 pounds are gonna come back with all the cake you’ll be downing. It isn’t worth it.”

But does love or the chance of it, always have to be so black and white? Does it always have to be to fall or to protect? To take a deep breath and move forward or tuck your tail, throw up your flag to surrender? To walk forward or to walk away? To be the girl who needs to be escorted down 65-feet or the girl who takes a step off the platform, no matter how scary it is?

Is it impossible to fall into shades of gray?

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t falling for Mr. Possibility and I’d also be telling a white lie if I didn’t admit it makes me a little uneasy and fearful for my heart that has experienced a fair share of breaks. But, as I’m realizing with this journey – not everything can fit into one of two categories. Not everything needs a big red bow on it of approval or a scary red “x” of rejection. And in terms of love – where guarntees are never made – falling into the unknown is just part of the game. Plus – regardless if it is in the form of cords and cables, or friends, margaritas, or strangers on tall platforms – we will always have some type of support to back us up if we need it.

So while hesitation is rightfully-justified when we’re about to take a plunge (the instructor had to count to three twice for me) – there is no better feeling, no better thrill, no better rush than the moment where you decide that regardless of the outcome or the final destination, diving into the unknown is less risky than turning around and always wondering…if you should have just held your breath, said a prayer, and jumped in.