In 1994, I made the bold decision to move to Durham. I had been living in a rat trap apartment behind the Wendy's in Carrboro and was desperately searching for a new place to live. Everything in Chapel Hill and Carrboro was SO EXPENSIVE! My friend, Craven, just got a job in Durham and we decided at the last minute to look for an apartment in Durham. I didn't want to live in Durham. But the houses were beautiful and the rent was cheap. We ended up with a gorgeous two-bedroom apartment in Old North Durham in a historic house that had orginally been built as a duplex. We lived upstairs where we had hardwood floors, a fireplace, french doors to my bedroom, and TWO balcony porches. I think that the rent on that place was $400 when we moved in.
However, I hated leaving all my friends in Chapel Hill. I felt isolated in Durham. No one that I knew lived in Durham. I went out almost every single night in Chapel Hill or Carrboro. It was a good 25-30 minute drive! But at that point in my life, I claimed that I was not a Durhamite but a Chapel Hillian who lived in Durham. In the mid-90s, it was impossible for me to just bump into friends around town. Every now and then I would run into someone I knew at Schoolkids on Ninth Street, but that was rare. I missed being able to just run into people on Franklin Street or in a restaurant or bar. My Chapel Hill friends considered it a chore to have to drive all the way to Durham for anything. My social life in Durham consisted of renting movies from the Carolina and that was about it.
But over the years, my attitude drastically changed. There are tons of bars, restaurants, hangouts, and music venues minutes from my house. I travel less and less to Chapel Hill for social activities. So many friends have taken the plunge as I did and have settled down here. And Durham has definitely become a place where I can run into a handful of friends at the grocery or walking down Ninth Street.
Take for instance, last night after returning a DVD to Avid Video, I wandered over to Bull City Records where Chaz recommended some new music and was excited to do so! (He didn't make me feel old and out of place when I asked for music-buying help.) With a Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and a Fruit Bats CD in hand, I stopped into Cosmic Cantina for supper where I ran into Rebekah. After finishing our burritos, we decided to keep the evening going so we drove over to the Federal for beers where we ran into even more friends. It was an accidental night out, which was so exciting.
I gave up on claiming to be a "Chapel Hillian who lives in Durham" ten years ago. I am truly proud to call myself a Durhamite. Durham rocks.