What is a Bostonian with a name like Nahabedian doing in Durham, North Carolina? A Northern ethnic in Durham, North Carolina in the mid-80s was as common as professional sports. No, I wasn’t a graduate student at Duke. Neither was I transferred South with IBM. Certainly not a Durham Bulls groupie. I was just intoxicated with the idea of change.
My relatives thought I was crazy as usual, but not totally surprised since I always marched to the “tune of my own drummer.” My family in Watertown was the parochial type. Hardly anyone traveled, and if they did, it was to New York. Their geography stopped at Washington, DC. Then it picked up in Florida. Anything in between was a mystery.
I did some research on the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area, but never saw the place because I never traveled there. The cost of an exploratory trip and subsequent journeying down there were exorbitant. With one swoop, I could just hit the road and go. I packed up, rented my house, and was off. This was cold turkey. I felt like I was in a Clint Eastwood movie. I had never driven more than two hours long distance. Now I had a 13-hour drive ahead of me, so I split the trip into a two-and-a-half day adventure.
I loved the place from the first ride down 15-501 in Chapel Hill. The Carolina blue sky, fluffy, pillowy clouds, wide open expanse, a vista of trees and greenery. I had never seen anything this beautiful. I was sold.
My plan was to serve as a substitute teacher in the Chapel Hill school system from January to June and assess the six months if this was going to be home. However I went on to do a myriad of other things. I worked for GTE South, which became Verizon. I sold AFLAC and was a telemarketer for the Durham Bulls. In addition, I worked at the Kenan Flagler Business School at UNC and spent my last five years at The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
My other ventures in my new home included starting a small business and initiating the Sunday Brunch Connection, a social network for singles. Best of all, I began a career teaching at the community college level. These adventures, some planned, many unplanned, were fascinating for 18 years, along with meeting many colorful people including Armenians to my utter surprise.