After studying the maps for a long time I visited Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Morrisville, Cary then Durham. A day for each.
We'd heard various quasi facts about relocated Yankees, especially white, rich ones not being particularly welcome, and that's why they all tend to live in Cary. We'd heard Raleigh was up and coming; we'd also heard there were gangs in Durham and places you shouldn't go. It was unseasonably cold the Saturday we went to Durham. We walked down West Main Street; it was empty and there was nobody around. A toothless lady stepped out of her store and complained to us about how cold it was, and then she said, "I gotta get me some alcohol." We couldn't help but concur with her.
We liked what we saw of Durham. I guess it's the post-industrial, red brick feel of the city, a city with a past and former glory. It's a bit like where I grew up in England, in between the big industrial cities Liverpool and Manchester, which were then (and still are) in the process of reinventing themselves. I felt at home in Durham.
Then we heard the infamous reports about the lacrosse story, the district attorney, the tensions in the city and some of the other bad press stories that have led to this being such a mediafest. Cross burning, did they really say that? I wonder now, as a newcomer having been exposed to all the things I heard and read, if I'll be welcome. I'm white. I'm not sure what counts as rich but $400 seems like a lot of money to me. I couldn't raise a $400,000 bond if I was accused of a crime. I'm English and kind of hoping this makes me more acceptable as a transplant than a (damn) Yankee.
The Duke story is not the kind of thing you want to read and hear about your newly adopted place, but you know what? We're coming to live in Durham. I think.