When Jeph and I decided we wanted to return to the Bay Area, again, and chose Marin County instead of SF or the East Bay, it was both exciting (because we love the area and it’s familiar to us) and intimidating (because we didn’t know Marin well at all.) Fortunately, my friend, Nicole, moved up to Fairfax a couple of years ago so we had one person to talk about it with.
Nicole and I met when we were both catering in San Francisco. Out of the group of regulars she was the one I really liked and clicked with. Probably her arty nature (she’s a painter – a really good one), and she’s also a Taurus – earthy and grounded, and a solid friend. She took a job teaching art to grade schoolers in Fairfax, fell in love with the community, and moved her family there.
So I asked Nicole for some insight into the area and she gave it a big thumbs up – mountains, ocean, cute little towns, plenty to do, abundant nature, friendly/unique people, good weather, and still close to SF. That was pretty much everything on our “ideal home base” list. We really have such a list and that’s really what it’s called, and we generated it through a lot of soul searching, vision questing, journeying, exploring, experimenting, learning, growing, and brainstorming (thanks to my dear friend, Karin, for helping us with that last part, which really brought it all into focus.)
Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
I asked Nicole if we could possibly stay with her and her son for a few days when we arrived (being optimistic about how long it would take to find a place to rent) and she said “of course.” So we arrived on a Saturday night a couple of weeks later, in a big moving truck, with Sid and Bazel, our road warrior feline buds, in the front with us, and the colorful visions of a cross country trip fresh in our mind. We drove through San Rafael (where we ended up making our home) and it was the annual street painting festival. Tons of people were out in the streets, there was music, and I could tell that most of the shops and restaurants were independent, not chains, which always makes me happy. I punched Jeph in the arm and asked why he never told me how cute it was up there when we lived in SF! We passed through San Anselmo, stopping at the grocery store for chardonnay and goat cheese (both made in the neighboring county of Sonoma – hooray for CA and locally produced foods!), and entered Fairfax at dusk. As we drove down the tiny side streets lined with big redwoods, the crickets were beginning to chirp and I noticed that each house was unique and many had gardens, some with chickens and roosters! I think I was in love with Marin already.
The Universe smiled on us and gave us a parking spot, big enough for a 26’ truck, plus car trailer, right around the corner from Nicole. It was so peaceful and quiet there, we knew the boys would be safe and comfortable in the truck, and, after 5 days and more than 2000 miles, we were ready for some wine, cheese and crackers, and visiting with an old friend.
Nicole made us feel very comfortable and her place was perfect for us to do our apartment searching from. I had a huge list of places for us to see, scattered among about 7 different towns. There are so many little towns in this area – we had no idea where to look. Nicole gave us some good perspective on the qualities of each. We saw two Sunday and three Monday and the fourth one was The One. We signed the lease and moved in the next day. That’s definitely a record for us!
It’s been three months and I am SO happy to report that we love our home, neighborhood, town, and the surrounding towns and counties. And Jeph and I both feel that being so warmly welcomed by Nicole really had a lot to do with everything positive that has followed.
Thank-you Nicole. I am grateful for your friendship.