Thursday, June 27, 2013


Seen waiting for the Red Line to 95th at about 8:45 a.m.

She has packed her suitcase and donned her puffy winter vest. Rebekah is ready for her trip to The Cold Place. The name is misleading; though it is colder there in June than in Chicago, Chicago is colder for much of the year. The name has less to do with the weather and more to do with the people she visits—her cousins, her older brother, her ailing grandmother.

In The Cold Place, Rebekah’s relatives are hospitable. They welcome her with smoked snoek and home-brewed umqombothi. They let her hold their newborn babies. They offer her their couches to sleep on. They are never rude.

In The Cold Place, Rebekah’s relatives are nothing more than hospitable. She can hear the ice in her brother’s voice, a frosty resentment that she leads her own life, a chilly judgment passed upon her—he believes she does not do enough for the family. Her grandmother’s voice is sharp and cool like metal. Whenever she speaks, her words dig barbs into Rebekah’s skin. Whatever the topic, she knows her grandmother is truly saying “why do you go so far away?”

Rebekah’s family is so pointedly not rude that it makes her sick. She prefers to spend most of her time in The Cold Place at West Park Cemetery, sitting near her parents’ graves, telling them about Chicago.

I guess it should say "Red Line to Ashland/63rd" at the top thanks to the construction, but whatever. I hope I got these details about South Africa correct. I did some quick research before I typed it up, but I wouldn't be surprised if I screwed up somehow. Sorry, any South Africans reading this!

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