Unlike the other cities we visited (a train away from London), there were no residual London feelings. No, this felt like a community all on its own. The terrain was filled with steep hills and cobble stone/brick streets. There were hints of modernity, but the center of the community was an Anglo-Saxon church that had been claimed and reclaimed throughout time. Yet, it still stood on the center hill. The entire community nestled around it.
On our trip, we met people who voted leave. We never encountered many "leave" people in London. Strangely, we didn't encounter many (obvious) immigrants in Durham, which made their "leave" votes all the more interesting. Mostly they spoke about gaining independence and their unwillingness to be affiliated with Europe. These were fascinating conversations because they felt more like the midwest than anything I experienced abroad.
In fact, the terrain of Durham, while far more filled with steep hills, also felt more like home than any other part of England. This is strange because the gates to the prison in Durham are short and seemingly easy to escape. I happen to live in a midwestern city that was ranked #2 in the US in violent crime (for our population). So how can a quaint town in Northern England feel like a crime-riddled Midwestern city in the US. I think it is the disinterest to be anyone but ourselves. Durham had no interest in being bustling London. It had no interest in changing itself. I can say the same for my hometown. Our city has fought every form of innovation tooth and nail. And as a younger person, I have always wrinkled my nose at our inability to transition. But standing in Durham, it felt peaceful and self-assured. It felt okay to be itself...which is not the sentiments of a city or town in transition. In some ways, Durham was a comfort, just the right amount of familiarity to get me through the rest of this trip.