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  • evanitallie

Hello from Durham, North Carolina!

Last week, I moved to Durham, North Carolina. In many ways this move is a long time coming. I’ve known I wanted to try living here since I observed a casual graduation party in June 2011 when I was in town for my Grandma’s memorial service. And, I’ve been actively thinking about moving here for the past two years. After a year of transitioning by taking “ending” actions, this is the first “beginning” action.

Map of major North Carolina cities with Durham highlighted. From:
One of my first visits to Durham! Me, my father, and my Grandma in her home.

I grew up visiting Durham at least annually. It was always exciting to visit my maternal grandmother, both because of her, and because Durham was so different than anywhere else I spent time when I was young. Then, my point of reference was home in the suburban college town of Princeton, New Jersey. Durham - or rather the area around my Grandma’s house that we didn’t venture far from - was exciting and appealing to me because it was more urban, less fancy, and just different from the North East. One of the clearest examples of the pull I felt towards Durham happened when I was in middle school. Every spring break my family would go on a trip, usually to Florida, with my paternal grandmother. One year, I successfully lobbied my Dad to take us to Durham. His sister and her husband where living nearby, and we would be able to see them as well. Florida in March is pretty hard to beat, but I wanted to visit Durham. On that trip, my Aunt and Uncle gave me a necklace. One of the first things I did once my furniture and boxes were moved into my apartment last week was to open my jewelry box, find that necklace, and put it on. I have achieved a life goal just by moving here. It’s exciting, but wow, it's also jarring.

The necklace I was given as present from my Aunt and Uncle during a visit to Durham in middle school.

In the eleven years since my last visit, two things happened. I established a deep sense of place to an urban area (Boston/Cambridge/Brookline) that is quite different from both Durham and Princeton, and my Grandma’s house was sold. The orienting point of her home is gone (which of course I could have anticipated would make a difference), and my own experience of place has changed dramatically. Now the differences that felt both familiar and like something I could claim by way of my mother’s childhood and my Grandma’s residence, feel foreign. And, after living somewhere that I knew intimately for so long, it's strange to be "living" somewhere and have almost everything feel new.

But what I also feel is confidence that Durham is the place where I want to be right now. I signed a four-month lease takeover and have two housemates. I signed only having seen it via FaceTime, but I had a sense of the area. The apartment is two blocks from where my Grandma lived. I am excited to run around Duke’s East Campus in the morning, walk around the neighborhood, ride my bike downtown, and develop a connection to this new place. It’s going to be an interesting next few months – meeting new people, exploring the wider Triangle area, and searching for, and hopefully finding, a job. I can do this.

Selfie on a walk in the neighborhood.


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