Franklin Street is the main

Sep 30, 2001

Franklin Street is the main street that runs through Chapel Hill, North Carolina; it continues on into Carrboro, the town where Erin and I and little Anna now live. I’ve been back to Franklin Street a number of times, now, to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop, the Kinko’s copy center, the t-shirt shops selling all manner of UNC-CH clothing and paraphernalia in, of course, powder blue. I’ve dragged Anna into the used book shop twice, me looking for a Spanish edition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Anna just looking for some attention. There are sub shops and Mexican restaurants, a music store or two, banks and a drug store, and two brew pubs with very good suds. Last night, Erin and I went to the University movie theatre on Franklin Street, our first date night sans Anna since we’ve been here; one of Erin’s classmates, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer named Britten, offered to babysit to give us the chance to go out. We vacillated between seeing Zoolander and Ghostworld, and went in to see the stupid-funny Zoolander because Owen Wilson is in that film. If you haven’t seen him in Shanghai Noon, with Jackie Chan, rent it tonight. After the movie, we went to West End Wine Bar (at the west end of Franklin street, naturally).

A few doors down from the wine bar is a cafe called Silk Road Tea House. Anna and I came here on Friday while Erin sat at home taking an online test for her biostatistics course. Silk Road is a large room, decorated floor to ceiling as a Turkish cafe. There are beautiful Persian rugs on the floor, cushions and divans and davenports to sit on, and pictures of famous and learned Arab scholars, Islamic clerics and Rumi mystics. On one wall is suspended a museum-like replica of a woman in robe, shroud and veil. As I sat drinking my tea, I looked over my should a couple of times to see if the woman was watching me, and I glanced around to see if the music I was hearing was coming not from speakers but from a live band (there was a Turkish band, Osman Aksu and his Ensemble, in nearby Durham that night, but I couldn’t get away to see them perform). Then I found myself in a sort of trance: I was facing the front windows, and I could see the busy street and sidewalk traffic going by, and I couldn’t decide if Silk Road Tea House was a contrived Mideast setpiece, or a perfect attempt, amidst escalating times, at crosscultural confluence. My trance lasted only a moment, ended by Anna’s need to burp. I ran my hand along the beautiful rug on the floor, and walked out onto Franklin Street with my little Anna.

Anton Zuiker

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