Keep on Roake-in’ in the Free World

One of the things I most hated about living in Atlanta was constantly being assaulted by nostalgia. Only, it wasn’t really nostalgia because nothing ever went away and neither did I? Like, sometimes I would drive to Whole Foods for their stupidly addictive and expensive smoked salmon dip, but as I puttered down N Druid Hills Rd, I’d be reminded of how I used to see the exact same church, the same Mellow Mushroom sign, and the same Post apartments, when my parents stuffed me into my car seat (or I guess back then you could just go in the trunk of the car; the 80s were a simpler time and the only safety measure was a “baby on board” sign) and drove me to preschool. Throughout my elementary, high school, and adult careers, I drove the same roads and passed the same things. And sometimes there were fuzzy fond memories, but mostly it felt like a dream sequence in which the signs were all making fun of me for never leaving the city where I grew up. I could practically see the “Taco Bell” sign morph into “TOWNIE!” when I drove past. So I guess it’s ironic that now that I live on the west coast I seem to constantly be on a quest to relive some of my happiest childhood memories. Since my grandparents aren’t here to reminisce with, Zach has to be my captive audience and pretend that my murky memories are entertaining.

Portland summers stand out as some of my favorite memories, even though if I think about it REALLY hard I can definitely remember spending those weeks complaining on the phone to my mom that I’d rather be at home with my friends and then acting like a complete asshole to my entire extended family (sorry everyone!). From the moment I stepped off the plane, my grandparents treated me like royalty. We’d head to their house where they’d fix me my fave (chicken flavored ramen noodles with two ice cubes and copious hot sauce). In the following days, Nana would take me back-to-school shopping and buy me whatever shoe du jour I begged for (I long for the green Adidas Sambas we found in Nordie’s back in ’95), then to the salon for a fancy haircut, and later Papa and I would head somewhere to people-watch and read trashy books. My grandparents loved traveling and were adventurous eaters who I have to credit with my decades-long love of Sriracha. They ALWAYS had the red rooster-themed bottle in their fridge as far back as I remember, definitely before Texas Pete made their own take on it and every regular grocery store stocked the Huy Fong necessity. My first pho, my first injera, and my first massaman curry are all thanks to my grandparents, and to Portland’s dynamic dining scene. It wasn’t ALL adventurous eats though–Papa was a big fan of the basics, and couldn’t say no to a hot dog. One summer he took me to Roake’s for a Coney and fresh-cut fries, and I’ve been dreaming about them ever since. There’s just been SO MUCH else to do we never made it out there until today.

Upon arrival, you’re greeted by the trademark Roake’s checkerboard sign and a steadfast menu board that has rarely seen an update. It looks like they’ve added mozz sticks and jalapeno poppers since my last visit in the 90s, but everything else appears to be pristine, save for the sheen of grease. We wanted to sample a few things so we got a long Coney, a classic dog, a bacon cheeseburger, topped it all off with a chocolate Oreo shake. If you thought I was going to have some sort of New Year’s Resolution to eat less junk, well, you must be new here or very dumb.
The shake arrived first, with a straw whose sole purpose was decoration, and a functional spoon. The shake was thick with crunchy cookie pieces, and despite its indulgent ingredient list, it was well-balanced and not overly sweet. The burger was built with precision; a fresh sesame bun sandwiched a crisp-edged patty, lettuce, pickles, onions, cheese, special sauce, and expertly-done bacon. The Coney’s namesake sauce smelled of oregano (maybe? Zach wasn’t taking notes but it was definitely herbal and reminded me of spaghetti sauce and this recipe backs me up) and was surprisingly well salted. The chopped onions could’ve been diced smaller and I wish cheese was involved, but overall it’s a fine specimen. Zach had the classic dog all to himself and had no complaints, but we both were majorly impressed by the burger and how balanced all the flavors were for a roadside hot dog stand.
Since even liberal wonderland Portland has a no shirt-no shoes-no service policy, I had to wear clothes to visit Roake’s. I know how to drive most places without Google mapping them these days, but I still haven’t mastered getting dressed since moving here over a year ago (!!!). I got a few pairs of rain boots and I finally bought an actual rain jacket (ok my mom bought it for me, but still) but I have not yet come to terms with the fact that I look absolutely ridiculous in them and none are particularly my ~aesthetic~. It’s hard enough being fat and shopping for dresses, but looking for functional outerwear that also doesn’t make me look like I added sleeves to a garbage bag is a pretty difficult. I also haven’t done much shopping since moving here for a number of reasons, all of them boring, but it means my getting-dressed paralysis is worse than usual because I have existing-outfit blindness, an entirely disgusting first world problem to have. Luckily it wasn’t actively raining during lunch, so I didn’t have to wear any rain gear so I just grasped blindly at a thing in the closet and made myself work with it. Wah, my life is hard.


I got this dress on Gwynnie Bee ages ago and it’s stretchily perfect to go eat junk food in. Tights are, as always, We Love Colors. Boots came from Amazon and are Bussola brand. The belt is also an Amazon find, the earrings came from Burlington More-than-just Coat Factory, glasses are Zenni, and the cardigan shrug thingie is from Ross.

 I’m gonna go forage for vegetables and eat some Alka-Seltzer now, but talk to you later probably. Bye.

One thought on “Keep on Roake-in’ in the Free World

  1. Pingback: Round and Round | clotheshog

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