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Carolina Revisited

The things you read on the internet are not always false, like the meme that states…

happinessAt the end of May two of my Durham friends got hitched (to each other), giving us the perfect excuse to travel back to the city and see my friends and former colleagues. Although the US and back in six days is pretty hardcore travel-wise, I was so grateful to be able to squeeze with the folks that were my family away from home last year and to share the celebrations at lives moved forward – new houses, new spouses, new puppies and roomies, new jobs, new adventures.

Durham city didn’t fail disappoint, as I sought my old favourite places and discovered some new ones, like the lovely secondhand book store on main or delicious offerings from my friend’s food truck which came to life just after I left town. I ran with the Bulls, mucked in at the bike co-op, swam at the quarry and generally slotted back into the rhythm of things as if I hadn’t been away. The mosquitoes even seemed to remember me as their favourite delicacy.

I also had chance to remember things that didn’t tickle my fancy about life stateside, the sound of gun shots late at night, the complete lack of any sort of driving discipline,  the constant slick of sweat from simply existing in the humid summer. No where is perfect, but that’s part of the charm and I certainly was charmed by Durham. Since I left half a year ago I have often thought of the place, verging dangerously on a kind of rose-tinted hiraeth as I attempt to slot back into life in the UK. Our recent visit was so important to me, to celebrate the good times had and friends made but also to recognise the snap-shot in time that last year represented. As the time passes friends move on to pastures new, some already left, several more planning to. The Durham we returned to was subtly different to the Durham I knew and I was reminded that the city will increasingly morphe into a new place again over time. Wonderful and necessary but also less familiar and more foreign.

You can’t move forward very fast if you spend half your time looking over your shoulder. To say a final so long, when back in the UK I made the most American (and enormous) cake I could think of –  four layers of beetroot red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Delicious and sweet with just a tinge of regret, like a perfect ending should be.

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