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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Roanoke Virginia...

I left your nestled valley many years ago. You were finally becoming my “home” until I had to leave you. I always had a friend to call when my car broke down or when my love life would hit a bump and bottom out. You were my summer vacations when I was a child and my home when I became an adult. When I first became a resident of Roanoke, I stuck my noses up at all the silly hicks that were everywhere. Then I broke my nose falling in the parking lot of The Pancake House. I had become a silly hick. I couldn’t have been happier.

Where else can you say The Pancake House or The Weiner Stand and have everybody know what you mean? I love this town! A ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway can turn into an adventure. A visit to the Mill Mountain Zoo can turn into a charming 20 minutes. I’ll never forget that big hunk of cheese shaped thing in Dixie Caverns. When I think of Heaven, I imagine a jelly bean section just like the one at Macado’s. I went to Hollins College just so that I could say, “I went to Hollins College.” I actually took classes at Virginia Western and met Bonnie, the best college buddy a girl could ask for. I smile just thinking about this stuff.

There is no place in the world better for catching fireflies and even now I can smell Roanoke in the morning. I can see the slug trails glistening on the sidewalk in the morning sun. I remember learning to fish at Carvin's Cove as a child. I learned to love fishing at Smith Mountain Lake as an adult. I even went deer hunting once although I never did learn to enjoy that. I finally learned to navigate the funky streets of the metropolitan area but I still can’t picture the whole thing in my head. A major turning point in my navigational training was when I figured out that Brandon Avenue turns into Apperson Road which turns into Colorado Street and that part, if not all of it is considered U.S. 11. U.S. 11 is also at the other end of town as part of Williamson Road. Nostalgia for poor road planning, I simply must get back there more often.

I experienced many firsts in Roanoke. I saw my first heater built into a floor. My first (and only) lawn decorated in the Elvis motif. I bought my first NEW car there. Then I was stopped for driving with no license plates. I had the plates, but the factory didn’t punch out the holes to screw them into. So, I just threw them in the back seat and figured that would be good enough. Apparently it was, the cop just put the plates on my car and didn’t give me a ticket. He could have been a jerk, but instead he just helped me out.

It was in Roanoke that I learned how to get a flat tire fixed; just stand behind the car with a couple pieces of a jack, and a confused look upon your female face. Before the fifth car passes, some southern gentleman will stop and help. :) I flat-footed and two-stepped for the first time but I never did learn to line dance, I usually had a date.

I wasn’t looking when I learned to love Roanoke so I don’t know how it happened. I remember suffering a severe separation anxiety when I moved away that hasn’t entirely left me yet. I'm stuck in a strange land and I miss my friends so I visit Roanoke when I can and when I do, I ALWAYS hear, “Hey girl! How are you!” It may be in the store, the mall, a restaurant, anywhere. But some friendly face always seems to pop up.

If there are people who don’t like Roanoke, give it time, you will. And for those who love the Mill Mountain Star, don’t feel badly when people laugh at it. Just tell them that the folk in Marietta, Georgia have a Big Chicken and they are more than a little proud of that. The radio stations here are no better than yours and they have a sportscaster guy who actually spray paints his head.

The only endearing quality that I have found here is that there are no Redskins fans. You can keep them. Apparently, no one else wants them. I can see the Cubs play, unfortunately (except for 2003!!!!) the Braves usually beat them here. I can fish here, I just haven’t found any good spots yet. But I try to make a day of it because, as you taught me well, there isn’t any excuse for anyone to be sad and lonely in Roanoke, the people are the best! I will be seeing you soon, I promise.


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