Rocko decided to take me to a coffee shop around the corner. He thought it best that I be sitting down when he starts filling my head with tales of the apocalypse. As we walked, I was struck by the small shabby houses and their bland weathered yards. Reading my gaze, Rocko intervened, “Those homes may not look pretty, but they are all clean, functionally stable and sealed against the elements. People today are free to paint and adorn their houses and grounds in any way or color they choose. Most don’t bother. The fallacy of “keeping up with the Jones” died along with the Federal Reserve and the big banks. Priorities today are seldom motivated by vanity, and living life’s precious moments in a meaningful way has become Priority-One.”
Rounding the corner, I was taken aback, physically, by the panorama before me. Rocko grabbed my arm fearing I might fall. At eye-level, I was met by a picturesque Victorian main street, ripped right out of a Hallmark Channel movie. People diversely dressed in jeans, flannel shirts, saris, scarves, dresses, hijabs, sweat suits, leather, cotton and silk were bustling about, smiling, chatting, window shopping, and patronizing what I assumed to be good ole “Mom and Pop” stores and cafés. Hair styles and skin colors were sufficiently eclectic to represent nearly every style-trend throughout history and every color in the Crayola crayon box, respectively.
The women, all of them, were somehow different and more beautiful than I remembered. At first I thought it was because I hadn’t regaled in the sight of the opposite sex in over thirty years, but then I realized that no one was wearing make-up. Whereas back in my day when so many women and girls cosmetically homogenized themselves into anonymous look-alikes, the fairer sex strolling past me today projected an individual, one-of-a-kind beauty and strength; the authenticity of which stirred me into a catharsis where suddenly I no longer saw women and men; I just saw people.
Despite the volume of pedestrians on the sidewalks, not a single person was staring into a cell phone, although some were talking into what looked like old-style flip-phones. There was something weird about the phones though; some colorful buttons, I don’t know, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Strangers who passed me smiled hello instead of staring down to avoid eye contact. I was quickly beginning to feel safe and included in this new world.
But it was not this futuristic rendering of a Norman Rockwell painting that overwhelmed me into breathlessness. It was the “structures” that loomed ubiquitously overhead extending into the horizons. Hovering just above eye-level was a scene that only HG Wells or Gene Roddenberry might recognize. “Rocko, are we getting closer to that coffee shop? I need caffeine, and… I definitely need it now.”
End of chapter two