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Friday from the Archives:Trying to Find My Way Back Home to East Lake, North Carolina
an essay by Elena Tajima Creef from NCLR 14 (2005)

“Some stories wait for years deep down inside your bones before they are ready to be released. Other stories are never told and disappear from memory after one or two generations. Even though I once taught writing to college students who were tortured by the blank page, I never dreamed that it would take me more than forty years and the death of my father to give voice finally to the silences surrounding one hundred years of family secrets that have followed me around for as long as I can remember.”

Professor Creef, Japanese-American by way of Eastern North Carolina, takes the reader on a journey through both memory and geography of her patrilineal heritage. Her words ring familiar for folks who have family lines drawn from just about any rural town decimated by poverty. Growing up in California, Creef wants to know about family in North Carolina, her father’s family.

Preserving NC’s rich literary culture is part of our mission here at NCLR, and publishing memoir and creative nonfiction that mimics the native story-telling traditions of the numerous ancestral dialects and languages of the region are one of the ways we do that. Next time you go to Homecoming, like Creef did in East Lake, take a recorder and copious notes. For as she writes, “As I say goodbye to East Lake, I begin to understand that in the end, the only things any of us can ever really leave behind for one another are the stories of our lives.”

Read the entire article by purchasing a copy of the 2005 issue with the feature “Outer Banks Writing”.