The old saying, “You can pick your friends but not your kin,” is gospel. (I don’t know about “blood is thicker than water”; does anyone really understand that?)

I love my family, but some days it’s hard to believe we share the same DNA.

Widdle and I traveled to spend time with family this summer, and now I know why I and my siblings live in four different states. Just kidding! Here’s why: T-Bob lives in Florida because there’s no state tax; Bubba lives in North Carolina because he was raised there; Moonbeam lives in Oregon because she likes life amongst the redwoods. I live here because I married a man who won’t live anywhere else.

Some days—those days are always brutally hot — I long to live somewhere, anywhere, else. This longing usually peaks in August and doesn’t subside until the first frost or January 1, whichever comes first. I’ve moved many times and always subscribed to the “bloom where you’re planted” mindset, but nothing blooms when the heat index is 110.

I hate our summers—the broiling sun, the soul-sucking humidity, the mosquitos, the pop-up storms, the swampy yard. I hate wrestling with the windshield sun guard that always droops. I hate blistering my hand on the metal seat belt buckle, and using oven mitts to grip the steering wheel. I hate being soaked in sweat and having a splitting headache from running errands on a 98-degree day.

But I love my husband, so I live in this third circle of hell. (A fact that fails to impress him.)

Back to family ties: We went to Georgia to see my stepson, his wife and Darling Diva, aka our granddaughter. Josie is both beautiful and kind.

At 13 months, she loves her blingy headbands and shares food without prompting. This shocked Widdle, because he lives with a woman whose mantra is “Get yer own!”

After going out west, we wound up in the Sunshine State visiting T-Bob. Spending time with him was sweet, enlightening, and hotter than 40 hells. He lives in south Florida—you know I love my brother to tackle south Florida in July. In retrospect, we could have gone to Oregon, but by the time I thought of that I was already sweating in South Beach.

What amazes me is that, at 58 and 60 respectively, there are still things T-Bob and I don’t know about each other. I didn’t realize he recycled; he didn’t know I’m in menopause, so that was fun. But the enlightenment didn’t end there.

T-Bob, whose wife and kids are away for six weeks, chatted while scrubbing the bathtub one night. “I have to clean while the wife’s gone, or she gets upset,” he said.

Me: “How is she going to know?”

T: “FaceTime.”

Me: “Are you SERIOUS?”

T: “It’s fine. I’d rather clean than have her be mad.”

Me, cackling: “Mad? MAD? You haven’t seen her mad. Wait about 10 years and you’ll know fear like you never have before. Your blood will run cold.”

T: “Are you nuts?”

Me: “Just wait. The fun begins in perimenopause. She’ll be irritable, sweating and freezing simultaneously. She won’t sleep, but she will eat. Say nothing, and you might survive.”

T-Bob looked dazed, like a man who’s just been briskly beaten with an iron pipe. He turned to Widdle.

“Is this true?” he asked.

Widdle chuckled. “Has your sister ever lied to you?”

T-Bob’s eyes widened. “No,” he croaked. “Now I’m scared.”

Yep, blood is thicker than water.

Julie R. Smith, who has a whole herd of crazy cousins, can be reached at