Dear Durham

2015 Michelle here:  I moved to Durham on Sunday, August 21, 2005 and started work the next day. While there were aspects of it I liked, living in Durham was hard.  I stayed for three years, but it never really had a chance.

Dear Durham,

It’s not working out between us. I think I may have known that from the beginning. It’s been three years, but I was never fully committed. You see, I never changed my residency. Or quit my PRN job. Or quit calling South Carolina ‘home’. I went into our relationship not really giving it a fair shot.

durham nc
a photo of a postcard

Part of it has to do with a boy. A boy I’ve known for a while but rather [in]conveniently didn’t start dating until nearly 9 months into our relationship. Boys complicate things because while I do want to be closer to him and  see where this thing goes, you are not without your charms either.

duke children's

  • I absolutely love my job. I was a bit worried when I started if I’d be able to handle taking care of sick kids. I’ve never spent time with kids before, but it just seemed as if it was something I needed to do. And I loved it. And I learned so much from it. Children are not just tiny adults. They have their own needs… which adults sometimes seem to forget. Children need someone to look out for them… protect them sometimes… even from their own parents. Children believe in magic, the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus. We help them not to forget that they are people too. Working at Duke is by far the hardest thing to leave behind.

durham Home-run-Bulls

  • Baseball. The Durham Bulls are an awesome team. Their stadium is awesome, and the atmosphere is awesome. I love baseball and Durham has found a way to market it well. Oh, and the movie is one of my all time favorites too.

durham bulls baseball

  • Duke Lemur Center. I mean, come on, LEMURS!!! Quite possibly the cutest animals around [other than cats].  The Duke Lemur Center has the largest and most diverse collection of lemurs outside of Madagascar.  I confess to having gone on the tour more than once. The guides *may* even know me by name.

duke lemur 1

duke lemur 3
How could you not love the lemurs?

  • Proximity. The City of Durham may suck the life out of my soul; it may not be the nicest city around, but it’s close to a lot of places that are a lot nicer. Country life in Pittsboro. Coastal life in Wilmington, Elizabeth City, and Outer Banks.  And not too far from the mountains either.
oreo cow
Oreo cows in Pittsboro

elizabeth city harbor
The Elizabeth City harbor

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The Ocracoke Lighthouse

But all that is not enough to keep me around. I’ve been accepted to Clemson University as an in-state student and I’ll be studying Microbiology. Whether I finish or not, is not the issue. I want to apply to graduate school. I’m thinking Physician Assistant, but who knows. I’ve got to get through Physics and Organic Chemistry first. Then we’ll see.

So Durham, I’m sorry to go, but in all honesty, you really never had a chance.

Michelle

My favorite mistake*

*My favorite mistake, a song by Sheryl Crowe–one of my all-time favorite songs*

A few weeks ago, I drove down to Wilmington to check out the city to see if it is somewhere I might like to live one day, while trying to decide if I should visit my favorite mistake who was in Myrtle Beach for a work conference.  There is just something about the coast in late fall when the beaches are deserted. Restaurants are closed. Prices are much cheaper.  It’s still warm enough that a walk on the beach seems like a good idea.  Until that breeze blows in off the ocean.  Then you know that it is definitely NOT SUMMER any more.

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It’s *a little* less crowded in November than say July.

I didn’t go back to South Carolina for Thanksgiving. I don’t really regret that decision, but it certainly did not make me the popular kid. Being the new kid in town means I work all the holidays people really want off work for. Being an only child means having no siblings to celebrate or commensurate with… also no siblings means there’s no one to give me nieces or nephews to play with.  With my father having recently departed this world, it would not have been the most joyous occasion anyway.

Anyway… and perhaps against my better judgement, I decided to soldier on to Myrtle Beach, where I did in fact meet my favorite mistake.  It’s been a hell of a three months. Loneliness + being overwhelmed both on a personal level and tragedy level, sometimes my head hurts from all the knowledge and skills being crammed in it on a seemingly daily basis.  Sometimes it’s nice to be with people who really know you, people willing to hold you when you need to be held, and kiss you when you need to be kissed.  I miss my life in South Carolina; I miss the people in that life.  I needed to leave, no doubt. I needed to not be around my family. I needed to not be around those two lying bastards I dated this year (one dated back to 2003). I needed to not be working at Hillcrest or GMH or the Children’s hospital.  Too many recent bad memories. I needed a fresh start, but by God, it’s hard.  It’s so hard to move as  a 20-something year old introvert who would rather hibernate than go out and meet people. It’s so hard to meet people in a city when you are trying to avoid the bars.  It’s so hard to meet people when you work the night shift. I don’t want to date my favorite mistake again, especially since we now live in different states, but my God, it was so good to be with him again.

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The incredible blue-ness of the water that you just don’t see during the summer

We did beach-y things like walk hand in hand on the beach with me stopping every 5 minutes to snap artsy photos. We had dinner at a local Italian restaurant. While he was in conferences I managed to leave the hotel and visit the state park. It’s so much more peaceful here than in the busy season.

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And we had long meaningful talks where I implored the universe to ‘show me a sign’. Give me some sort of direction of what I should be doing. Should I forget South Carolina and all the people there and make a new start in Durham, or should I learn as much as possible in Durham, but still make my life in SC. In with the new, and out with the old, or keep the old and make new? Please universe, show me a sign.

myrtle-beach-november-2005-2
And then this happened…

Clearly it was the universe talking…

Now if I only knew what the hell it means…