I have recently relocated to Durham, North Carolina – the Bull City, home of the Durham Bulls and Duke University. I first moved to Durham in order to attend Duke as an undergrad in 1988, and stayed until 1993 before moving back to Annapolis, Maryland. I was going through some tough times in those days, as were my parents, who were separated and soon to be divorced. I moved back to Annapolis to try to understand what was going on in my family and to try to straighten out my life. It took some time, but thanks to a lot of help from friends and guidance from God, I am in a much happier place now. I was able to move back to Durham a few months ago, and am enjoying learning about this town from a more mature perspective.
Durham is an interesting melting pot of a town. There is extreme poverty and extreme wealth, extreme liberalism and extreme conservatism, a lot of segregation between the white and black populations, and in the past nine years of my absence, an explosion in the Latin American population and accompanying culture. The Duke Medical Center is world-renowned, and one of Durham’s identities is The City of Medicine. Yet the town’s history is mainly tobacco-oriented, and the remnants of the tobacco warehouses dominate the downtown architecture. Crime, homelessness and drug trafficking have plagued this town more than other areas of the Triangle, and the downtown areas have become vacant and even structurally unsound. Yet there is a burgeoning art community occupying a group of downtown lofts, and the city is poised to make sweeping changes and renovations to the downtown areas in order to increase consumer spending and business development in the area.
I have also found a wonderful church here: St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, right on Main Street downtown. This is the most integrated church I have found in the area, although it is still predominantly white. This group of people cares about their environs, from supporting the local homeless shelter and soup kitchen that is on the same block, to making an effort to raise parishioners’ consciousness about environmental issues and plans for the development of Durham. This church believes in this town, and is proud of its downtown location, right next to a known drug corner. St. Philipians’ belief in the ability to change and rejuvenate this town is the basis for our slogan, “Faith in the City”. I feel truly blessed to have found such a marvelous, open-minded and hard-working group in the area.
I am fortunate enough to live in one of the newly renovated downtown apartments. My apartment building was once a tobacco warehouse, and has high ceilings, wood floors, enormous windows, and a beautiful view of downtown Durham. The picture above was taken from my windows, as were many of the pictures below. Click on the thumbnail to see a bigger picture.
The Durham skyline in summer, as
seen from my window. We’re looking
over the top of the Cooper Building,
another renovated warehouse. In the
distance, you can see the large glass
Durham Convention Center tower. The
CCB building is hiding behind the
window strut, but the Marriott is visible.
At night, the skyline is alive with lights.
Here’s a better look at the Cooper
Building, and the Cooper Shop below
that was once a garage but is now an
Italian restaurant called Tosca.
This is a better view of Tosca, with the
patio tables they set out when the
weather is pleasant, which is a lot of
the time. It’s all too convenient to have
such a yummy restaurant right across
These are my two windows, which face
southeast and allow a lot of morning
light into the apartment. This is
particularly wonderful, as I am
somewhat seasonally affected, and
need light in order to stay cheerful.
This is an ideal apartment for me in that
Here’s light streaming into the central
part of my living/dining area. The sun
goes over the building around noon, so
it doesn’t get too hot in here in the
summer, but it helps keep the place
warm in the winter.
Here’s the rest of the living room, with
the windows off to the right of the
picture. The entire place is aligned with
the windows, and the lovely view, as the
focal point. I have several mobiles to
accent the high ceilings, one of which
you can see in this picture.
Here are the lovely hardwood floors,
with my cat Chester off to the right,
basking in the sun. I’ve tried to leave a
good deal of free space here so that I
can do my aerobics unhindered.
The dining room area holds sundry
other items, such as my piano,
aquarium, plants, CDs and DVDs.
Here is the kitchen area and breakfast
bar, which unfortunately is usually just
used for collecting junk and not actual
eating. But it’s a spacious and modern
This view shows the hall closet and the
foyer all the way to the door. On the
right side of the picture you see one of
the windows to the master bedroom,
and further on the right is a step up to
the bedrooms and bathrooms, which
are not shown.
The windows have a wide window seat
which is large enough to hold cushions.
Zut, one of my two female cats, enjoys
spending time here. Her name is
pronounced “zoot” like zoot suit, but her
name is actually from a Monty Python
movie (“Bad, wicked, naughty Zut!”), as
well as a mild French epithet.
Chester, my other kitty, posing on an
old computer box that is uniquely suited
to her coloration. Chester is a Durham
native, as I acquired her before I moved
in 1993. She is nearly 10 years old.
One of my two aquariums, with several
fish – Maggie the red velvet swordtail,
Sunny the golden angelfish, and White
Eye Guy, another angelfish off to the
lower left. I have another tank as well,
with some golden and neon tetras. This
photo was taken when the angelfish
Here is White Eye Guy, basking in the
sun. The sun is good for the live
aquarium plants, but can be dangerous
for overheating. In my case, I was
lucky this was where I placed the tank.
I have never had a problem with
overheating, and I believe it helped my
fish survive the ice storm. (See link
below for abundant details.)