Getting to Where I Am & Sweet as Cane Salty as Tears by Ken Wheaton

He-made-the-world-to-beI’ve been thinking about how I got to where I am. I think it’s because it’s class reunion time. The first of my two high schools are meeting this weekend, and I will not be able to be there. I went to school with these people from second grade through my sophomore year of high school, and they are the people that resonate through my childhood memories. One of them was even one of my freshman year dorm roommates. Many of them I knew earlier than second grade. These people helped me become who I am today. I’m sad that I’m going to miss it, but living 1300 miles away and having busy kids means it just didn’t fit into my schedule.

I will be attending my other high school reunion, just because of timing. It’s in August, so we will be driving out to Colorado from Ohio. That trip will lend itself to many blog posts, I’m sure.

Any way, all this thought of reunions and the past, and Sweet As Cane, Salty As Tears made me start thinking about my journey–I mean my actual journey, not the self-realization journey–that got me here, where I am today. So, I’m going to share it with you.


In between my sophomore and junior years of high school, we moved from our home in the country and our small district to the larger (not necessarily large, just larger) town down the road. It was a much larger school, but not that far down the road, so I knew some of the kids and wasn’t that far from my old friends. Our family business was in that town, as well as a large chunk of our family, so it wasn’t foreign. But it was still hard to change schools. I LOVED it, though.

Two years there and then off to college. I only lasted one year at the University of Wyoming. I was young for college, and maybe shouldn’t have gone so far from home. Or maybe I should have gone farther (it was about 11/2 hours from home). Probably, I shouldn’t have had a car.

Home, and community college for a year. Then the University of Colorado for awhile. Then New York for a couple of years as a nanny. Great chances to wander the East Coast.

Then back to Colorado, to the Vail Valley. Skiing everyday (ski instructor) in the winter, hiking and outdoor stuff all summer (day camp counselor). I loved those years, and I wonder many days why I left. But I thought it was time to ‘grow up’ and return to the ‘real world’, so I headed out of the mountains to Denver.

I lived and worked in the Denver suburbs for a while, then had a chance to go to Phoenix to open a restaurant, and I jumped on that chance. (Wanderlust, anyone?). While there, I switched jobs and met my (now) husband. Summer in Phoenix was about the most miserable I’ve ever been, so, when he asked me to move to California (where he had been transferred), I jumped at the chance.

We were there a year, then moved back to Colorado. We got married there, moved about five times, had two babies. I finally finished school. I taught school. He worked in a couple of different restaurants, and when he had the chance to to open a chain restaurant in the Columbus area, we jumped on it. By this time my parents had retired to Arizona and my brother had been transferred to Florida. Ted (the hub)’s parents were in New Jersey. One of his brothers was in Florida at the time, the other, in college in Colorado. Ohio seemed like it was in the middle of just about everything (and it is).

So, that’s where I am. Settled down into our little town. We drive quite back and forth to New Jersey and to Pennsylvania (we have a cabin in the Poconos). We travel to Arizona to visit my parents, and we try to travel other places when we’re not visiting family.

I sometimes feel the need to just GO! I don’t get to travel as much as I would like to, having kids and all. I would love to take my kids and RV all year round, live a little like vagabonds, homeschooling my kids on the road. It would be fun, and probably enlightening in many ways, but probably doesn’t provide a lot of stability and structure.

And I could see my husband turning into a bit of a right wing conspiracy nut without some grounding.

So, I quell my need to wander and I stay put, for the most part. But ideas like a roadtrip from Ohio to Colorado sound wonderful to me. I wish we had a bigger vehicle, like a rockstar-size RV or bus, but we’ll survive in our Chevy Equinox. There may be some bickering in the backseat, and maybe some in the front, but I’ll do the driving, which gives me some control. I’ll listen to my books and read when I’m a passenger. I’ll do some writing and some thinking about writing. I’ll stop the arguments in the backseat, put on a movie, and hope the girls can look around and enjoy the sights.

That should satisfy me for awhile.

Ken Wheaton’s Sweet As Cane, Salty As Tears is a funny, honest story of middle age and coming to terms with who you are, where you came from, and what your future holds.

Katie-Lee, or Katherine, Fontenot is a 50 year-old Cajun girl living in New York City. Everyday she fights her Louisiana roots, pretending to be exasperated and annoyed by her family on Facebook, but unwilling to cut them off. Layoffs loom in her world, and she understands that she’s at an age where finding a new job is more than difficult.

When her sister is trampled by a black rhino, Katie-Lee must return home. Here memories and history start to collide, and Katie-Lee learns that running away didn’t change anything.

Sweet As Cane, Salty As Tears is funny and sad, heart-warming and heartbreaking. It’s a story that creates an ache for family and Cajun food. And it makes you remember that no matter where you go, there’s no place like home and no one knows you like family.


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