Thursday, January 20, 2011

East Coast Travels: Part One

There is nothing like a three-day train ride through the Midwest in the middle of December to reveal what a marriage is truly made of. My husband and I had a sleeping car room, the kind that are about 3' x 7' with a pull down top bed, and with two seats that can be converted to a bottom bed. The two seats face each other, and that's how we sat for three days, through Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, my feet in his lap and his in mine. We read books, we ate Korean pumpkin candy, and we discussed some very difficult things. In a 3' x 7' space, all falseness gets stripped away. You at last speak truths you've been afraid to even think. And if your love is real, those truths are accepted with calm understanding and bravery. By the time we got to Chicago, we didn't have any new answers to the daunting questions in our marriage. We didn't carve out our futures into stone. But whether or not we stay married for another month, year, or four decades, I know one thing for sure: our love is real, and my husband is by far the coolest, bravest, most accepting man I have ever known.

We weren’t supposed to stay the night in Chicago, but snow in the Midwest delayed our train by so many hours that we missed our connection to D.C. Amtrak put us up in a nice hotel, and the next morning we trudged through the snow in leaky shoes to explore Chicago. Walking through downtown, my dear Korean husband said rather audibly, "Chicago has many black people." My first white-guilt instinct was to hiss, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Then I thought about it for a second, and instead told him about the Great Migration in the early 1900’s. My husband's response: "Do you know Michael Jordan? Chicago Bulls?" I blinked at him, puzzled. "Well, I know OF him," I said. "Makes sense," my husband said. "What makes sense?" "Chicago has many black people. Michael Jordan is from Chicago Bulls," he informed me. Thankfully, I was spared from having to respond, because a teenage boy in sagging pants was swaggering up to us. He asked us for a quarter for bus fare. I told him we didn't have one. "Can I kick it wich y'all tonight? Y'all cookin' tonight?" he asked. I laughed and told him we weren’t. The kid went on his way, we went ours. After a few minutes, my husband asked me what the kid had asked for. (He couldn't understand the kid's slang.) When I told him it was money, my husband said, "He should not touch sleeping lion." "Eh?" I asked. "I am sleeping lion. He should not ask me for money." I didn't ask for further explanation on these words of wisdom from my husband.


  1. I LOVE the things your husband says. So brief, but so full of curious sides to explore.

    Chicago in snow and winter also makes me think of Richard Wright, that man has such a way of really putting the reader there. Chi-town is awesome.

  2. "If I have no patience, then I am not TK."