I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for years regarding the decades-long overdevelopment of Western Goleta. I finally realized why it feels like hostile alien territory, a scant three miles from my somnolent home in a well-established, 1960s-era tract.
I don’t belong there. In every way imaginable, the massively expanded shopping areas, the overcrowded and overpriced apartment blocks, aren’t…me.
The sprawling, open-air retail plazas attract mall owners’ coveted teen-through-forty-something demographic. Sometimes there are family groups, and a sprinkling of gray elders, but most shoppers are the prime-of-life crowd, heads bent over screens as they bustle about in their trendy, upscale clothes.
UCSB hunkers like a bad-tempered gargoyle on the coast just to the southwest. Hoards of students drift in giggling groups between the theater, MacDonalds, Starbucks, and several bar-restaurants, and queue up for the latest iPhones at Best Buy.
Surely it would be fun to be one of those energetic young people, boisterously enjoying themselves with friends who, as a group, often look eerily like each other. Or that might just be my imagination, sparked by the intriguing possibility that Earth is peopled by humans who aren’t, quite, human.
I’ve seen references to so-called NPCs, non-player characters that some say inhabit Earth and are destined to vanish like pricked balloons upon The Event/Ascension/Solar Flare. The notion that there are, basically, attractive zombies strolling amongst us is so outlandish, I hesitate to credit it at all.
And maybe I needn’t. Maybe this train of thought isn’t taking me to the Spiritually Better-Than station, but is veering onto a humbler sidetrack that glows with distant promise.
I sense, as the train steers gently away from the main line, that everyone (however I, with my limits and egoism, might label “us/them”)—every single being is welcome on New Earth. Seeming flaws like not-quite-humanness become meaningless when the destination is the same for all, and we know in our quiet hearts that we are all, together, on our way home.