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Moving to Durham?


I'm coming to live in the Raleigh-Durham area on May 5. My husband has already started working down there in the Triangle. I came to visit for a week in March from the 17th to the 27th. I took him to work every day so I could have the car and go exploring. The first day I got horribly lost in the Triangle. There were no exit signs. As I drove past long orange tracts of land being carved up for new construction, with no sun to give me a clue in what direction I was going, I felt very lost. I was running out of gas, I needed the bathroom and evidently did not have a map with me. A journey back to our apartment that should have taken less than 10 minutes took me over an hour. I hated it here.

After studying the maps for a long time I visited Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Morrisville, Cary then Durham. A day for each.

We'd heard various quasi facts about relocated Yankees, especially white, rich ones not being particularly welcome, and that's why they all tend to live in Cary. We'd heard Raleigh was up and coming; we'd also heard there were gangs in Durham and places you shouldn't go. It was unseasonably cold the Saturday we went to Durham. We walked down West Main Street; it was empty and there was nobody around. A toothless lady stepped out of her store and complained to us about how cold it was, and then she said, "I gotta get me some alcohol." We couldn't help but concur with her.

We liked what we saw of Durham. I guess it's the post-industrial, red brick feel of the city, a city with a past and former glory. It's a bit like where I grew up in England, in between the big industrial cities Liverpool and Manchester, which were then (and still are) in the process of reinventing themselves. I felt at home in Durham.

Then we heard the infamous reports about the lacrosse story, the district attorney, the tensions in the city and some of the other bad press stories that have led to this being such a mediafest. Cross burning, did they really say that? I wonder now, as a newcomer having been exposed to all the things I heard and read, if I'll be welcome. I'm white. I'm not sure what counts as rich but $400 seems like a lot of money to me. I couldn't raise a $400,000 bond if I was accused of a crime. I'm English and kind of hoping this makes me more acceptable as a transplant than a (damn) Yankee.

The Duke story is not the kind of thing you want to read and hear about your newly adopted place, but you know what? We're coming to live in Durham. I think.

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