redefining wanderlust

a life blog by Bekka

Posts for Iselton

Reflection on Time & Iselton, CA

Being behind on content, especially when it comes to travel is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it forces me to revisit my adventures and look back fondly on them in a cloud of nostalgia. A curse, because as I edit photos and video footage I see the difference between my skill now versus then. A curse, cause I’m constantly dipping into the past and that’s not very healthy when it comes to being happy in the present. A curse, cause new memories are being layered on top of the old ones and distilling information into a new story.

Next up on my content calendar for YouTube and my blog was when I visited Iselton, the hometown of my Bachan. I was incredibly close with my Bachan, and was proposed to with her ring. Earlier this summer I went on a pilgrimage to Tule Lake concentration camp where she was detained during WWII for being Japanese. As I edited the footage from my 2015 Pacific Northwest road trip headed for Iselton, I ended up capturing Mt. Shasta on film. At that moment when filming the mountain and scolding Dan for trying to take a picture and drive at the same time, I had no emotional attachment to that mountain. Now, in 2016 after going on the pilgrimage, I see that mountain as a landmark for the hundreds of Japanese who were shipped off to Tule Lake, completely lost and confused as to what may lay ahead.

Iselton is a rundown small town that holds historical significance as one of the first thriving Japanese and Chinese communities pre-World War II. I found a fascinating paper on Iselton that I’ll link to here, as it will highlight the history of the town much better than I could. We went to Iselton looking for a building that could possibly be my O-Jichan’s (great grandfather’s) boarding house and soda shop. A few buildings were pointed out to us as potential sites, but nothing confirmed. On one side of main street was the formerly Chinese neighborhood and the other side was the Japanese side. Today the Japanese side is falling apart, while the Chinese side has a new museum and a few of the buildings are newly renovated. But mostly this little main street was a shadow of its former self, families now using the store fronts as housing.

We fortunately had the opportunity to walk around main street with a board member of the Iselton historical society, and she graciously answered as many of my questions to the best of her ability. Sadly, I didn’t film any footage of our tour. Honestly, I just felt too uncomfortable to film. Now, I’m disappointed with myself as all the details of our time there has now fallen through the cracks of my memory. I should have at least recorded audio – something to remember for next time.

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Also in my vlog I remark on how I found my Bachan’s records of being at Tule Lake. I had completely forgotten about that and I’m not entirely sure what records I found. But yesterday, my mother did send me my Bachan’s official Tule Lake records; documents that include medical history while at the camp and a letter of recommendation to her “Americaness” from a former employer.

The past can be painful but it’s powerful, it lays the foundation for who we are and who we will become. I’ve now seen the hometown of my Bachan and my Grandpa (my Dad’s father). I’ve seen how these once middle class vibrant towns have been beaten down by time. I’ve seen the metaphorical dirt in which the seeds of my story was planted and how my family has grown, following the line and realizing where I am on this tree is very far from where it originated.  As I dip into my own past adventures, seeing where I’ve been and who’ve I’ve met along the way, I’m reminded I am growing and living my best life. Day to day I can become restless, anxious, frustrated by the present. But if I’ve learned anything from my adventures it’s that time waits for no one. Time will pass anyways and it’s what we do with time that shapes our present and future. It’s how we experience every minute, every hour, every day that adds up to the sum of our life. It’s not just the roadside attractions and destinations that make up the memory, but the in between parts to and from places as well.

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I was going to do a separate post just outlining my thoughts about my plans from now till 2017, but I think it’s more fitting to put it here. Since I’m talking about time, the past and present etc. I obviously have trouble with past content versus posting in the present. Publishing a story that happened 2 weeks ago is completely acceptable, 2 months ago sure why not, but 2 years ago just seems lazy. And I have a lot of feelings when it comes to completely abandoning stories that I have every intention of sharing, even though it’s not even remotely current. So I post with a non-existent timeline that may be confusing. and press publish with an attitude of “Hey it’s me take it or leave it” (awkward smile). I want to be more present for my blog and in my life. So between now and the end of year. I will be finishing the stories for my 2014 road trip, completing all the 2015 PNW roadtrip blog posts and videos, and finally getting to a few other miscellaneous adventures that are taking up space on my hard drive. Then in 2017 I start fresh. I have a 7 day turn-around, no more than 14 depending on external circumstance. My adventures in “real time”, then I can stop dipping into the past and instead relish in the present.

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