5. Marin wheels, the basic kind.

So, Marin County, California. It is directly North of San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge.  To explain it, I’m going to explain a little bit about my growing-up years. Erm, scratch that. I need to tell you a little bit about my parents’ growing-up years, instead. My mom’s family, the Ortegas, as far as I know, were from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico on her paternal side, and scattered throughout New Mexico on her maternal side (BOOM there it is – there’s the reason NM has always had relevance to me). My grandma, Mary, was an angel. I remember her cooking…it was pure love, and I remember loving making tamales with her. My grandfather, Jose, had been an orphan in MX and was self-made, through a lot of hard work, having served in the military and then raising his family in Las Cruces.

I’m going to pause and take a breath. Because – as I write, I can feel the urge to go down a rabbit hole and recite all kinds of family/ancestry backstory, but I’m going to try to focus on things relevant to AirBnB Actually. (But forgive me, I just have to say one thing: Doing a 23andMe test was all kinds of fascinating and I’ve learned so much about my mom’s side of the family because of it.  I didn’t know I’d become a genealogy geek… but guess who is a gene junkie now.)

As for my dad, I only really knew a little about his dad, and nothing really about his mom, June. My dad, and his dad, both born in a tiny town in Missouri, on a parcel of land surrounded by…well, not a lot.

My dad as a child with his parents.

My dad grew up, married, went into the Marines, divorced, met my mom, and then made me and my brother. He was a machinist in dairy plants and I remember him going through multiple layoffs. Multiple layoffs = lots of stress. I tell you about my parents’ backgrounds because the truth is – both sides of my family had humble beginnings. My parents had met in Los Angeles sometime around 1970 — and by the time I was four years old, we’d moved to a little town in California’s Central Valley, to be nearer to my mom’s parents who were there to pick crops.

My mom, dad, brother Chip, and me.

We lived modestly. Some years were very lean. There were times the utilities were turned off, had to go to the food pantry for cheese and bread, things like that. My parents were very proud because I became the first direct descendent on either side to graduate college. After college, I lived in our small town in an old house with a room mate, not knowing that in a few years, I’d be living in Marin. Do you know what a BMW is? Basic Marin Wheels. Yes: BASIC MARIN WHEELS. In 2002, I married and moved to a place where $100k was considered low income, where people asked which exit you lived off to determine your wealth/worth, a place that is known to be highly segregated, whose reputation is cemented in stereotypes like everyone is filthy rich, comes from family money, are wine and coffee snobs, have housekeepers and nannies, and in general are as privileged as it gets. < Unpopular opinion: Some stereotypes (not all) are stereotypes because, sometimes, they are true. Having said that, Marin is also full of loving, kind, generous, smart, and good people. And $RICH$ people. For a girl who grew up in a small town eating noodles or frijoles when times were tight, who watched the family car be towed away because of non-payment…to being someone with a Lexus and finding herself surrounded by sushi-eaters (had never had it) during glitzy nights out in San Francisco, there are only two words to describe the “I just moved to Marin County from my little Central California town” experience: Culture. Shock.

### (Fun fact: Don’t know if you noticed but I had one grandmother named “Mary” and one named “June” – and that’s how the name “Mary June” came to be.) ###

Want to Follow Along?

Subscribe now to get new posts sent directly to your inbox!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *