A Toast To Durham
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A Toast To Durham

Justin Laidlaw
Justin Laidlaw

I glanced into the future last Thursday.

After a work meeting at The Durham Hotel, I rushed over to Toast to pick up a grilled chicken panini for lunch so I wouldn’t keel over from starvation. Customers had taken up most of the outdoor seating; lounging under the umbrellas, finishing up their meals, giving no indication that they were in a hurry to leave. Why would they? The sun was partly shaded with a cool, ever-present breeze passing through the block. I sat down on a black metal bench outside the restaurants after making my panini order. A fusion of latin jazz and funk played over the Remedy Room loud speaker above my head. I never noticed it before and couldn’t recall if Whiskey or Criterion ever used it. More cyclists than cars passed through Five Points as I waited.

The vibes would’ve been immaculate if not for the droning construction equipment within ear shot, a descriptor that doesn’t narrow down your location in Durham without context these days. Construction noise aside, the experience had a European flavor to it: people eating outside with no concern for time, music playing in the public square, cyclists dominating the roads. Day after day, I dream of a Durham just like this.

Rob, one of the partners in Remedy Room and Rubies, popped out of the restaurant, waking me from my daydream. “Are you the one DJing?” I asked him. Didn’t I by Darondo had just come on while I was packing up to leave. “You know it.”

As I pedaled away, the lyrics chased after me.

“Didn’t I treat you right, now? Didn’t I do the best I could?”

Yes, Durham. You always have.



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