The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 46

Lacy Barker
'TOTES' NOKE': HOW ONE HOLLINS STUDENT CAME
TO LOV . . . WELL, ADAPT TO ROANOKE
Yes, Star City Games smells like an elementary-school cafeteria, and
the neighbor without the shirt can be a little annoying, but then
those mountains out at the Red Sox games . . .

Lacy Barker: "What's up
with a sign that reads 'Any
Time is Laundry Time - Last
Wash 8:45'?"

BY LACY
BARKER

46 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014

I MOVED TO ROANOKE with a casual Google
search's worth of knowledge. The Roanoke website had
promised a "vibrant community" in a "livable city" with
"unexpected balance." That kind of language yielded
immediate skepticism, and indeed, I spent my 23rd
birthday - my first day in Roanoke - standing inside
an apartment that did not resemble its Craigslist ad,
feeling immensely unbalanced. I'd moved all the way
from Minneapolis for a floor missing boards as long
as my legs.
I fled. I drove down Williamson Road, the Main
Street of Roanoke, according to half a dozen signs.
Hardly anything seemed "main." Not Trends, a motorcycle gear shop I was too afraid to enter, or Happy's
Flea Market, where I found a giant Confederate flag
dream catcher, or Star City Games, which smelled
like a an elementary school cafeteria and claimed
to be the largest Magic: The Gathering store in the
world. I was comforted by the sticky golden arches
of McDonald's, a sight that had never come close to
soothing me in my life.

I got a better apartment. My
neighbor, a retired Roanoker who
called himself Big Mike, wandered
shirtless around the courtyard,
strumming an unplugged electric guitar and lecturing about the
weather and how I should stay on
the "good side of the bridge." Big
Mike checked on me whenever it
rained hard enough to soak the
grass. He rolled my garbage can out
to the curb every Wednesday, which
both my mother in Iowa and I on my
sofa appreciated.
In my graduate program, I befriended other transplants. We took
to calling our Roanoke experiences
"Totes 'Noke." Many encounters
and observations were so bizarre,
so totally Roanoke, they couldn't
be explained any other way. Oh,
there's a custom license plate that
reads "IJUMPU"? Totes 'Noke. The
cashier at Kroger offers you an Oreo from her stash under the register? Totes 'Noke. A sign that says "Any Time
is Laundry Time - Last Wash 8:45"? Totes 'Noke. After
a while, the regularity of the peculiar felt endearing.
A friend visited from the Midwest, and I showed her
things that impressed her, like the Star on Mill Mountain that floats over the city at night. I pointed out my
school hugging the base of Tinker Mountain. I told her
how I'd climbed to the summit to eat fried chicken on
Tinker Day. There were the streaked runways of the
airport, the old Roanoke Hotel, the snaking river. It was
a gorgeous clear night, and I liked how far you could see,
how the mountains kept rolling like lumps in a quilt. I
guess it's better than Iowa, I said, and then wondered
if I meant it.
I won't stay in Roanoke forever. There isn't a Half
Price Books and there aren't nearly enough lakes. But
in the summertime, watching the Sox play baseball, I'm
happy. Those little mountains framing the outfield lose
all their earth tones and glow bright indigo blue. You
can't look away if you try.I
THE

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The Roanoker - September/October 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - September/October 2014

Digital Help Guide
From the Publisher
The Look
The 360
The Gossip
The Flavor
The Gist
The Calendar
Roanoke in the Year 2054
Appreciations and Deprecations: Perspectives on Roanoke Over the Years
What Really Happened with Design ‘79?
The Poff Building Debacle
Roanoke Then & Now
40 Stars of 40 Years
Covers Great, Covers Not-So-Great
Green Building
Restaurants of Old … and Still Here!
Dining: Fiji Island and the New Yorker Deli
The Dish
The Perfect Weekend
Retire-VA
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Intro
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Cover1
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Cover2
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 3
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 4
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 5
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 6
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 7
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Digital Help Guide
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 9
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - From the Publisher
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 11
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Look
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 13
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The 360
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 15
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Gossip
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 17
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Flavor
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 19
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Gist
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 21
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 22
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Calendar
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 24
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 25
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 26
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 27
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 28
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 29
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Roanoke in the Year 2054
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 31
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 32
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 33
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 34
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 35
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 36
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 37
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 38
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 39
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Appreciations and Deprecations: Perspectives on Roanoke Over the Years
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 41
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 42
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 43
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 44
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 45
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 46
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 47
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - What Really Happened with Design ‘79?
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 49
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 50
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 51
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Poff Building Debacle
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 53
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 54
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 55
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Roanoke Then & Now
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 57
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 40 Stars of 40 Years
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 59
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 60
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 61
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 62
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 63
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 64
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 65
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 66
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 67
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 68
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 69
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 70
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 71
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 72
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 73
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 74
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 75
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 76
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 77
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 78
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 79
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 80
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 81
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 82
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Covers Great, Covers Not-So-Great
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 84
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 85
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 86
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 87
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 88
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Green Building
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 90
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 91
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 92
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 93
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 94
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 95
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 96
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 97
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 98
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Retire-VA
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R2
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R3
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R4
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R5
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R6
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R7
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R8
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R9
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R10
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R11
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R12
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R13
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R14
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R15
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R16
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R17
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R18
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R19
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R20
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R21
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R22
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R23
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R24
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R25
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R26
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R27
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R28
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R29
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R30
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R31
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R32
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Restaurants of Old … and Still Here!
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 100
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 101
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 102
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 103
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Dining: Fiji Island and the New Yorker Deli
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 105
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 106
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 107
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 108
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 109
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Dish
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 111
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 112
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 113
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Perfect Weekend
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Cover3
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Cover4
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