A Ski Reprieve

I’m on a Solo Ski Sojourn. Last year I was focused on vertical feet and broke 500,000 at the end of my sojourn. I skied A LOT.

This year I won’t be hitting 500K, but I will be able to say I helped feed cattle on my cousin’s ranch in Cayucos, researched my book in Guadalupe, got a copy of my parent’s marriage license in Santa Barbara, walked the strand from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa Beach to Redondo Beach on a beautiful and sunny afternoon. I made a Costco run to buy big, thick rib eyes that were cooked to perfection at my nephew’s condo. We started to watch Babylon (bad) and ended up watching Elvis (good!).

Random things happen when a person is open to adventure. Saturday morning we had no plan. We could have gone back to the beach or gone to Marina del Rey to watch the beautiful people. Instead we decided to go to Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles and had the most incredible experience.

Most of my time in California has been spent in NorCal and San Francisco area. Stanford is south of San Francisco, so I’ve spent a bit of time there. My sister Carol is in Sacramento, so that’s like a second home now. I’ve been to JapanTown in San Francisco a lot and I’ve felt it shrink over time.

I’ve only been to Little Tokyo in LA a handful of times. Over the course of the years, I’ve felt is shrink, too. But this time it felt vibrant! The main mall was packed! Maybe it was the post-covid rebound, but the stores seemed fresh, profitable, and there were so many!

The cool store was Japangeles or so this twenty-something young girl told us. And Tiger Sugar bobo tea was THE place to get bobo tea. Japangeles had branded stuff with their logo and name on everything. It WAS cool, but somehow I didn’t feel compelled to part with my money there. And it wasn’t exorbitantly priced–T’s were like $35-50. Normally I would want to jump into a new trend, but maybe I was feeling my age. I did buy some cards at Kinokuniya Bookstore, a compact foldable eyelash curler at the Maneki Neko place, and we had a Chinese pork bao at a street vendor. And we got bobo tea at Tiger Sugar.

There were lines going into the Sanrio store as well as lines into anime stores. I don’t even know what some of these kids are buying, but they all were kids. I was the oldest person there–maybe some shop owners were my age–but it was an 18-40 year old crowd. No Obachans like me walking around.

My nephew Andy and I went to both the Japanese American National Museum Ireicho exhibit (https://www.janm.org/exhibits/ireicho/event) and the 442nd museum. The Ireicho is a book with 125000 names of every person of Japanese ancestry, citizens included, who were imprisoned or interned in jails, military sites, assembly centers and concentration camps. In my family that included my mom’s parents, my parents and my sister Carol who was born in camp. We needed a reservation, but the museum people got us in. They locate the names of the family members in the book, and there’s a little dot maker that we put a mark under the names we were honoring. I teared up walking into the space that the book is in–it’s a humbling and sacred space–where Andy and I put dots under the names of our relations.

If that wasn’t emotional enough, we then visited the 442nd museum and the monument. My uncle Ben Kubo’s name is engraved in the monument, and we got a pencil etching of his name. Someday I want to write a historical fiction of Ben’s life, a fascinating journey that took him from California, to Japan, to Guadalupe, CA, to Italy and Germany, back to California, Montana and ultimately Hiroshima, Japan.

This whole experience was prefaced by a stop in Morro Bay area and a stay at my cousin’s ranch in Cayucos. I used to spend holidays with my three boy cousins riding horses and hanging out with my aunties, Hano and Ruth. It has got to be one of the most beautiful places in the world, and spending time with my cousins Richard and Eugene is a treat, for sure. I was able to do some book research in Guadalupe and walked the halls of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse where my parents got their marriage license in 1942. Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a truly breathtaking historic Spanish Colonial building. I could just imagine my mom being awed by the splendor of it all.

My ski reprieve will be extended for a few days as I will be going to be flying into Dallas to be with Maiya during a tough emotional time, and then back on the road to catch some skiing in Colorado.

As the lyrics to the Cranberries song, Dreams, go:

Oh, my life is changing everyday

In every possible way
and oh, my dreams
It’s never quite as it seems
Never quite as it seems.


8 thoughts on “A Ski Reprieve

  1. Richelle Moen says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey, Elaine. I appreciate your sense of family and history, I look forward to your next book…and the other one brewing!! Miss you! Richelle

    Liked by 1 person

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