We have been living in Maryland for just about 3 months now, and I’m just getting around to my good-bye to Durham post. Part of this is because of the busy-ness of the summer and new school year, but some of it has been mental block. I think I’ve gotten to where I can finish it up, though.
Of my 32 years, I spent the last 8 in Durham–one-quarter of my life, and over half of my adult life. This may end up being a fairly small blip, depending on where I spend the rest of my years (I certainly hope it has the potential to become a blip!), but right now, in this season of my life, it’s a major part of my experience. It was also a fairly eventful 8 years. During our time in Durham, we bought our first two houses (and sold one of them), earned 2 masters’ degrees and most of a doctorate between us, and had three children. We both had our first professional jobs. We started going to a church because that’s where Mark worked, and ended up with a church family who watched us grow, welcomed our children with us, and let us challenge them and be challenged to grow by them. We made a group of friends that I hope we will keep in touch with for the rest of our lives.
I thought I would do a “favorite places” post, and I’m going to go ahead with that, with a few caveats. The first is that when I think “Durham” (at least, from here in Maryland), I’m really thinking about the whole Triangle area, and not all of the places I’m including are even there. The second is that I know I will miss some. These happen to be the places that I am missing the most right now (and they are in no particular order):
- New Hope Presbyterian Church. We are starting to get to know our new church family, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still missing our old one. I learned so much here about being part of a church, even though we never officially joined. So many of our friends are here. Every church has its strengths; theirs are a love of music and worship and a strong sense of community. When we started going there, I wouldn’t have necessarily recommended them to families with kids, but now I can whole-heartedly–just remember that you’ll have to give your gifts to the church, too. If you happen to be looking for a church in the Durham-Chapel Hill area, I recommend that you visit New Hope!
- NC Museum of Life and Science. I didn’t even know about this place (not really), until our son was almost one, so almost 3 years into our time in Durham. But I can’t imagine the following 5 years without it, and I miss it very much. We always visited at least some of the animals, and my kids knew most of the farm animals by name. I don’t know that there’s any other museum quite like it–both committed to learning for all ages and just plain fun.
- North Carolina Zoo. Yep, not in the Triangle at all. But such a fabulous zoo, well worth the car trip. We made a point to go there several times a year because we joined as members, but I think becoming members ended up giving us excuses to go somewhere we loved anyway. We’ve recently visited the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, and it was fun, but it just doesn’t compare to the NC Zoo in terms of attractive, large habitats for their animals (although to be fair to the MD Zoo, they are making LOTS of improvements from when I was a kid) and a beautiful natural setting to put it all. [AHH!! I just went to put the link in, and saw that they now have LION CUBS!! If you live in NC, I am officially charging you to go admire them for us.]
- Hillsborough Yarn Shop. One of those places I liked to go for myself, and what will forever be the (probably too-high) standard for how I judge yarn shops. They are always friendly and helpful and always welcoming of my sometimes-crazy kids. One of the things I liked most about them is that they stuck to their mission of providing only natural fibers, but were willing to help me find quality materials within my budget–or simply learn how to make things with yarn from my stash.
- Duke Gardens. I remember this as one of the first beautiful places I found in Durham, and I have a very happy memory from my time in library school of going there for the afternoon just to read with a good friend. The Gardens also became a fun place to take the kids and the pick-up spot for our many CSA deliveries. It was another good place to go if we just needed to get outside.
- Sparta, NC. Way out from the Triangle, but one of the places that connects my childhood with my kids’. I loved going here during summer vacations to visit with my extended family, and we were lucky during our time in Durham to go out and visit my aunt and uncle several times a year. I know we will still return to Sparta (and Durham!) many times in the future, but I miss being able to do it, realistically, in a weekend.
As I said, I’m leaving out a lot. I didn’t mention any restaurants (too many to choose from, with different reasons for loving different favorites), or any universities (three of which we have close family ties to, now). But we miss a lot of places, and especially people, in Durham.
In the last two weeks, I’ve started to feel more settled and at home here in Forest Hill. The start of the school year and getting back into familiar routines has definitely helped with that. So, of course, has time passing and giving us a chance to explore our new town. I’m sure we will continue to get to know and love this part of Maryland (and remember favorite places in other parts of Maryland), but I just wanted a chance to note how much Durham has come to mean to us over the past 8 years.
So farewell, dear Durham. We miss you a lot, we look forward to visiting in the future, and we will always cherish our 8 years with you.