Don’t Punch Your Sister and Other Life Lessons

Considering the small amount of possessions we now own, it was hard to explain what took so long on moving day. Of course, there was the very large issue of my husband’s closet, which was still not empty. There are times in a marriage when you ask how the hell did I end up with this guy, but over the years you learn to bite your tongue and keep the peace. And then there are those times when you can’t control yourself.

“What the fuck is going on in this closet? And you wonder why the hell I bitch?” I know, it was a little harsh but I had packed 97% of the boxes over the course of a week.

He made lame excuses and argued with me about the toaster still sitting on the counter. The toaster? Really??

I ignored him and finally, four hours later, the rooms were empty. Almost.

empty apartment

That morning he brought me two boxes from his storage trailer. The trailer that is now carrying our meager collection of furniture. They contained a collection of our daughters’ childhood mementoes. One box for each daughter. He wanted me to consolidate them.

“You couldn’t bring this to me two weeks ago?” I asked, trying to keep the exasperated tone out of my voice. In all honesty, I wasn’t trying too hard. I was exasperated and losing patience. But those boxes. Oh my.

chelsea and michelle cahoons hollow

Little essays written with crooked, backwards letters. My cat Jenny. My sister and Me. All About My Mom. And books we had made together. We made books! I forgot all about that.


The funniest thing I found was a book made by my younger daughter Michelle’s 2nd or 3rd grade teacher. It was titled Things Not To Do. Apparently the assignment was based on a story the class had read together. There was a lot of advice lifted straight from the book. Never kiss alligators. Don’t ever look under the bed. My daughter Michelle offered her own advice, and hey why not? As the offspring of parents who always take the road less traveled and believe detours are not something to be avoided but an opportunity for an adventure, why would she follow directions?

dont punch your sister

Don’t punch your sister or you will get in trouble. She will tell your mother. ~ Michelle B.

I laughed out loud, powered on, and with a smile ripped my last strip of packing tape across the box of childhood memories. I consolidated nothing. There was no way I was throwing away any of these precious archives. This is the stuff life is made of.

Despite my aching back, tired legs, and no where to sit to rest my weary bones, by two o’clock we were in the management office returning the keys, out the gates of our gated community, and on the road again. Mumford and Sons was playing on my car stereo, and my husband was in front of me with six ladders riding on the roof of the overloaded trailer he was towing. We took the right onto the big curving ramp at the intersection of Woolbright and Interstate 95, heading north, the rising crescendo of drums and guitars and the howl of Marcus Mumford, oh how I love Marcus Mumford, sealing this moment in time. One of those symbolic turning points I will hold in my mind’s eye as The Day We Left Florida.

Put me behind the wheel of a car with good music playing and my brain is cruising with grand stories. I am writing novels and making movies.



Seven a.m. Clermont, Florida, just north of Orlando. We sip coffee in a jasmine scented backyard with hot air balloons floating in the distance. We woke to bad news. The truck has a ruptured brake line Rich discovered when he and Pete were juggling the vehicles in the driveway.  Pete is on the case. A guy in the neighborhood is a mechanic. Another guy across the street knows this guy the mechanic and gives Pete his phone number. This neighbor across the street used to live in Portsmouth, N.H. where we used to live before we got married. His wife grew up in a town not far from the Inn we are moving to. You cannot make this shit up.

Because this is our story, the imperfect union of two very different minds who somehow agree to never do things the way “other people” do, we planned to take a detour west before we headed north. Our life is in transition. We are homeless at the moment, returning to the northeast to run a B&B, something we’ve never done before but we are confident we can do it well and enjoy doing it, so we are taking the vacation we planned before we got the job offer, bound for Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Great music, great food, a great American city.

Life is short. The truck can wait. We have until the 6th to get to the inn, give or take a few days. We leave the keys in the truck. Pete’s neighbor has agreed to pick it up later that day. Shit happens but why let that ruin a perfectly good road trip.

Rich called it a fortunate misfortune. No one got hurt. The brake ruptured in the driveway. I don’t know how this relates to Don’t Punch Your Sister except to say, we are who we are. The eternal optimism may be one of the big reasons I ended up with this guy.

Marriage is hard work. Marriage is a commitment. A promise to have and to hold, For better or worse. LIFE IS ALL THIS is a story about a marriage. It is a story about people like you and me. It’s available on Amazon. Check it out and please Buy the Book.

And here’s one of my favorite guys, Mark Knopfler, singing one of my favorite songs with Emmy Lou Harris. I just realized if I ever get a movie deal for Life Is All This, this could be the soundtrack.


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