I don’t like to say, “I live in Marin”. Marin has a reputation. To say, “I live in Marin” is to imply having money, land, Beemers, and possibly more money. I know that’s why they say it. You can almost hear beaming pride at being bourgeoisie. Where else do people talk about the county, not the city? In the past, I always looked for a highway exit for Marin, but never saw one.
When I first moved to Novato, the northernmost town in Marin County before changing to Sonoma County (which has its own reputation to foster, as everybody thinks they’re wine connoisseurs, based sheerly on the proximity of wineries), I refused to say Marin. Somehow, over the last two years of living here, I gave up. People thought I lived in Nevada.
Now that I will also be working in the same county, just down the road, I’m scared. I’m scared that I will become a typical Marinite? Mariner? Marinish? Marinian? I’m scared that I won’t see any homeless and will regain my naiveté when I go to San Francisco. I’m scared that I will stop hurrying out of the car at dusk, dead-bolting the house door behind me in reflex. I’m terrified that I will start wearing yoga pants, carrying designer mats in aesthetically designed eco-cotton carriers, and shop only at Whole Foods or Patagonia. I’m worried that I’ll never get to count guns shots on New Years Eve again to identify whether it’s a revolver or automatic with a 12-round magazine, while praying no bullets come through my windows or roof.
There is solidarity in bonding all the little towns in Marin into one large costco-shopping super status, though each village radiates something special: Mill Valley elitism, so exclusive there’s nowhere to park (maybe they don’t want visitors); Corte Madera has the most uppity mall I’ve ever seen (uh, no…I don’t want to try on that $400 shirt. Not only because it’s a size 6 and you’d have to take it off the mannequin and you and I both already know it won’t fit me, but because its $400!); and Sausalito, with its multitudes of sailboats lining the bay every day sans fog. Let alone San Anselmo (hippie holdout) or Tiburon with its lack of crime and minorities.
Novato has its own reputation, as the backwoods, redneck cousin of Marin with its fair share of mobile home parks. One parent told me “it’s a good place to live, but you wouldn’t want to visit there”.
On my way home in a large, tan SUV with 3rd row seats, to the tucked away house in a small, small town, seemingly far, far north of San Francisco, I realized that I am already suburbia.
Woe is me.