Dear Durham

2015 Michelle here: Contemplating another career/life decision, and I look back 10 years! [how was that 10 years ago] when I left behind everything I knew and move to another state to pursue what I can now call the best job I ever had. I first wrote this letter as I was leaving town way back in 2008.

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 really, it never 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 status. Or quit my PRN job back in South Carolina. Or quit calling South Carolina ‘home’. I went into our relationship not really giving it a fair shot. I was holding on to the past, not ever letting the future be what it could.

durham nc

Part of it has to do with a boy. [It’s always about boys, is it not?]. A boy I’ve known for a while, but rather [in]conveniently didn’t start dating until nearly 9 months into our own 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. Really sick kids. You see, 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. I love baseball. It’s not a thing you hear me say often because my baseball memories are tinged with sadness, but baseball is my favorite sport to watch. 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. When I find something I like I get all nerdy and find out every. single. detail. until I wear myself out on said topic. Lemurs are my Durham obsession.
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.
oreo cow
Oreo cows in Pittsboro

elizabeth city harbor
The Elizabeth City harbor

ocarcoke lighthouse

The Ocracoke Lighthouse


But all that is not enough to keep me around.

Three years of a long-distance relationship is a lot. I’m tired of driving 250 miles each way regularly. I’m tired of working 6 days in a row just to have a few days in a row off.

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 or even medical school 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.


You can listen to a real Dear John letter–one by Taylor Swift.

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