We, Santa Barbarans, have an attitude problem. Yes, we all do! Locals, implanted, Caucasian, Latino, old, young, Asian, and African American…we have collectively convinced each other and ourselves that we are not only deserving but entitled to all good things that life has to offer. Climate MUST be perfect! Anything over or below 70 degrees we perceive to be a personal attack; our news broadcast have a "storm watch" every time there's a drizzle, and a "wind advisory" when we can barely feel the wind blowing. We also have so many not for profit organizations that not even the most knowledgeable community members can agree on whether there are 500 or upward to 700. Our every possible need has been anticipated, and people are ready to help us at any given moment. We have glorious vistas that we take for granted, and many of us hardly ever get out to enjoy the beach, mountains, creeks, and sunsets, that people can only dream about in other places.
To prove my point, I have the perfect example. Not too long ago, I was speaking with an acquaintance who was complaining about how the ash from the recent fires made it impossible for her to go out to exercise those days, and how the hot climate due to the so called "inversion", made it difficult to keep her armpits dry (yuck!). As she was complaining about her perceived "problems", I was wondering, how self-absorbed can we get. If she had only thought about the 500,000 plus people who were displaced, according to the news, and who-knows-how many who had lost their homes, their pets, and all their possessions, she would have not dared complain.
When in fact there is a stronger breeze, we wear thick coats and gloves, and many people prefer to stay inside their homes. How can I say this? The fact that the breeze may blow stronger than usual, does not necessarily mean that it is colder. Distance is another complaint. If we have to travel more than 5 miles, we think that our destination is far, and thus we take into consideration the wear-and-tear of our cars, not to mention the gas expense. Planning a trip from Santa Barbara to Goleta, or vice versa? Forget it, too far! I ask myself, do we really need to have everything at our fingertips? Having lived in a big city, where a 1-hour trip is considered a fast and easy one, I am not able yet to echo that complaint. This brings me to the amount of traffic in Santa Barbara. When there are more than five cars waiting to go at any given stop light, we consider it heavy traffic! Oh, and yes, we are livid about bad drivers, as well. You know, people who do the California stop, who honk the horn, who do not respect the four way stop, who forget to use their blinkers, and cut in front of other cars; and about pedestrians, who don't know where to cross the streets. I've heard locals complain about (so many) tourists, about the downtown bar area (too much noise), and about Fiesta. (Ah, the horror! Too many drunk people, tourists, and noise combined. "Let's kill it!" some say, or at least, "Let's get out of town!").
Everything needs to be perfect in paradise!
The fact of the matter is that in order to be so, paradise needs to have a little bit of everything to please everyone. For instance, when I came to live here with my family (imported directly from one of the most populated cities in the world), I felt I needed to see more people than the too few neighbors visible on the streets in the Samarkand area, where we used to live. It felt too lonely for me and a little eerie too. That's how I started our tradition of going to State Street to sit outside the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to have coffee, people-watch, and talk to different people (a mosaic artist, a landlord, a county employee, a commercial writer, a parts technician, and a nurse), whom after ten plus years, we consider family.
So yes, we Santa Barbarans (born here or by adoption) might have an attitude problem. But who can blame us? Even the rich and famous, who could live anywhere, have joined us for the ride. In the end we're here all together; we are happy; we learn; and we are culturally richer because of each other.
There is no doubt. We live in Paradise!
Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.
Cross-posted at Edhat.com