Durham is decidedly a different place from the town that I left so many years ago. Of course, I'm decidedly different too.
When I was growing up in my hometown my travel radius was pretty small. In fact, most of my destinations were outside of the city limits in the "county". Tobacco fields were a staple for the area. Pastures of horses and cows were sprinkled through out the area.
It did not seem odd that the town I called home was known nationally as the "City of Medicine". Duke University Hospital and UNC Medical School are ten miles apart. I was fairly comfortable visiting the campus of both schools and felt that they both are a part of my home.
The schools brought professionals and academics from all over the world. My home town had a small town but diverse flavor.
While "I was gone" I lived in several places. I spent ten years in the state's largest city which is a banking hub. This is less true today than it was ten years ago. Mergers and reorganizations have changed that landscape. But, when I was there I felt I was living in the heart of the South's metropolis. Looking back I realize that the population in the Bank Town was not nearly as diverse as my home town.
I also lived in the Seattle/Bellevue, WA area for seven years before moving back to my home town. That was such a great experience. We lived in a downtown high rise and loved it. I had my first Turducken courtesy of my friend that relocated from New Orleans.
When I relocated back to my hometown I paid very little attention to its foodie hype. I figured it was a sort of city self promotion. Many of my work colleagues had relocated from the Silicon Valley. One was from DC and one from Boston. I remember they talked about Chicken and Waffles. I don't think I had heard of this before and I could not imagine what this combination would taste like. I like chicken and I love waffles, but I had no desire to combine these.
But then I got curious. When I decided this was something I wanted to taste I found that the "Almost Famous" Chicken and Waffles restaurant always had a line. I mean always. But one afternoon one of my friends took me there. We got in because it was something like 5:00 (maybe earlier?).
Okay...I loved it. And I need to go back.