It was a Tuesday like any other.
I woke up that morning and got ready for the day. My schedule included interviewing Adam Klein of American Underground for The Bulls of Durham book project, attending a Transition in Ten (formerly known as the Mayor's Poverty Initiative) Education Taskforce Meeting and then getting to go to local Instagram celeb yogi Jessamyn Stanley’s book launch at MotorCo. 3 sentences in and this already doesn’t sound like an average Tuesday.
I guess I left out the part where I woke up in Durham, North Carolina. In the Bull City that itinerary is low-key, beaten path, par for the course, just another day, basic, etc. Durham offers you the ability to do what makes you happy, follow what sets your soul on fire and help others, all the while making a living for yourself. Sounds magical, and to be honest, it is.
Back to Tuesday. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day and American Tobacco Campus was in its full glory. I stepped into Saladelia’s Café and ordered an Americano (which they did a great job on) and found a seat to wait for Adam Klein.
It wasn’t too long before Adam arrived. I appreciate his respect for time, as he sent not one, but two emails about being a solid 5 minutes late. Now here is a man that is making incrediBULL contributions to the city, hell what he’s doing is putting Durham on the map in a whole new way, and he’s apologizing to me for being 5 minutes late. I was grateful for the time to enjoy the ambiance.
We spoke of where Adam came from and how to he came to be head of the American Underground. His intellect, compassion and insight shown through. He answered the hard questions with thought and consideration and zero hesitation. Now that’s Bull City: here we pride ourselves on being willing to have the hard conversations.
I pride myself on getting to say, “we” after only a short 18 months as a Durhamight. Well, in the spirit of honesty, 18 months exactly will be on April 20th, but who’s keeping track? That would be obsessive. From the moment I got here the city has embraced me and that’s a Durham thing. While I’m a snowflake in many ways, I’m not a snowflake in my Durham experience.
I have found that in Durham there is a place for everyone. That you can give to this city and it’ll give back a million times over. That if you show up for Durham, it’ll show up for you, again and again. You can give to Durham, but you cannot take. If you come to the Bull City only to make a buck and not be a part of the city, you’ll quickly find that Durham is not for you. And that’s okay.
After meeting with Adam I poked around the building to snap some bull shots and took a moment to appreciate American Tobacco Campus’ attention to detail. Then I wandered out into the beautiful sunshine, past the rainbow lit waterfall, past the beautiful courtyard and then right past the most comfortable looking chair. I stopped, looked up at the Lucky Strike tower and decided to have a seat in that there chair.
When you're overcome by Bull City feels, the best thing to do is immediately practice gratitude and embrace the feels. Otherwise you'll end up ugly crying in your Prius. We've all be there.
As I sat there soaking up the city and vitamin D, my phone started lighting up like crazy. One of my artist friends Darius Quarles (another The Bulls of Durham interview) messaged me from Liberty Warehouse Apartments, luxury apartments being built on the site of the original Liberty Warehouse. He was sharing with me his 45 foot mural in progress. How lucky can a person get to be part of a community and get to see art in the making? You bet your sweet tookas I headed right on over to get a look!
WOW! If you’re in the area you’ve got to go over ASAP to see this mural as it comes together. Darius took the time to share with me his plans for the mural. He put an incredible amount of thought, research and history into the mural. Every inch of the 45 foot long, 2 story tall mural is steep in Durham from inception to today.
While snapping the 1,000th photo of the mural, mild exaggeration, I got a text from another dear friend inviting me to lunch. I bid Darius farewell and boot-scoot-boogied back on over to ATC and then over to Tobacco Road for lunch.
Now this is the part y’all where I’ve got to remind you, none of this was planned. None of this is scripted. But also none of this happened by chance. This is Durham. Keep that in mind as the story moves along.
Shooting the bull with my friend, enjoying a local brew (not quite an amber beer, but East-Coast-style-close), I was jolted when I hear a loud BANG! Oh hey, THE Durham Bulls were practicing and Tobacco Road happens to be built on the periphery of the Durham Bulls baseball stadium. No big deal.
I wandered on over to the Plexiglas edge to watch the Bulls for a bit. What an awesome opportunity. Lunch and a show. BANG! Another ball slammed into Tobacco Road missing me by a mere 10 to 12 feet. Close call y’all. I ran over the ball’s final landing spot and picked it up, my very own AUTHENTIC Durham Bulls’ baseball. It’s so basebally. I plan on having it signed on April 30th when the Bulls have a fan meet and greet.
Smile on my face, great lunch in my stomach and Durham Bull baseball in my hand I all but started skipping back to my car. I didn’t think my day could get any better. I was wrong. In Durham, it all gets better by the minute.
On the way to my car I spotted a gentleman moving around honeycombs in the back of his truck. That seemed unique. I really tried for a solid 5 steps to keep walking, but Durham got the best of me. I asked if I could be nosey and all but climbed in the truck bed while touching all things honeycomb while Justin Maness of Bee Downtown gave me an impromptu lesson on beekeeping.
While he wouldn’t let me onto the rooftop to see the hives that day, he did agree that I could another day, after signing some waivers. We’re going to do a personal tour and interview piece. I get to wear a beekeeper suit or bee suit, either way I’m in.
Now covered with honey, a few friends richer and a baseball owner I headed home. Deep down I legit BEElieved that I was going to get some work done. (Psst… by trade I’m a health and nutrition writer. This book is a heart project that I work on in my every spare moment.) What I accomplished was getting cleaned up and heading over to the meeting. I enjoyed getting to speak with caring members of our community about helping the focus area with their educational wants and needs. The compassion in this city is unBULLievable.
Full of Bull City happy feels I headed over to MotorCo for local Durham gal, Instagram yogi celeb, Jessamyn Stanley’s “Every Body Yoga” book launch. Yes. All of that is one sentence and happening. I walked in, bought a book and proceeded to fangirl out while I took in Jessamyn’s authentic message on positive body image and the true purpose of yoga. A perfectly poured old fashioned later I worked up the courage to ask her a question.
Afterwards as I stood in line to get my book signed, I met Tom Campbell, owner of the Regulator Bookstore in person. Two weeks prior I’d gotten to interview both him and his daughter Amy via a conference call about both The Regulator Bookstore and Sustain-A-Bull. It was pretty awesome to meet him in person. He was then kind enough to take a picture of Jessamyn and I after she signed my book.
There is a glaring omission of some intense fangirling in the above paragraph.
With that I was ready to call it a Bull City day and knock out for the night. It was well past my usual bedtime. I picked my dog up from his auntie’s and on the drive home was both in complete disBULLief and acceptance of my day. Everything that happened that day was both Bull City magic and par for the course.
Durham, the notorious Dirty Hamlet of the Triangle, has its woes like any other city. We’ve got a serious poverty problem. We’re working on it. Crime, yeah we’ve got that too. It goes hand in hand with the poverty problem.
We’ve also got an incrediBULL music scene, THE Durham Bulls baseball team, profoundly talented artists, coffee houses with live jazz, bars with housemade infusions, boutique hotels built in former banks, creatives making a living doing what they love, a skyscraper 8 stories into its 27 story glory still called the hole, and the best damn food around. We’ve got NCCU and we’ve got Duke. Moreover we’ve got a comfortable lawn chair, right below the Lucky Strike tower, where you can take a moment and cry tears of gratitude that you get to be a part of that “we,” the collective that is the Bull City.
Or so I hear.
Durham, North Carolina. Always an adventure. Chance of being pelted by a baseball. Sometimes sticky. On the rise. Forever Dirty. Bull City.
To follow The Bulls of Durham book project email TheBullsOfDurham at gmail.com and say, “Yo Sheila. Please put me on the mailing list.” Also follow the project on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Oh! And now that this website is a thing, you can check back here. Make it your homepage. Tell all your friends. Write home to your mom about it. :::Flashes Bull City hand sign.:::
Oh and treat yourself, your mom and everyone you love to the best coffee mug of all time, which happens to support this here book project. No big deal. But very big deal. Click HERE.
Sheila Amir is a health & nutrition writer who fell in love with Durham, North Carolina and starting writing a book about it.