our dwellings shape us


since i left home as a bright-eyed 18 year old, i have lived in 18 different houses or apartments.

i have had at least fifty-six roommates (i lost count at that point).

the place i’ve lived in the longest is this cookie-cutter, beige tract home in east palo alto. as of today, i have lived in this house for over twenty months. longer than the mission. nearly half of high school or college.

i would never have predicted that.

to be honest, it hasn’t been my favourite chapter of life. those months have been hard in a lot of ways, and have felt drab in a lot of times. i haven’t been close with my roommates or attached in any way to our house, which i’ve seen as quite dull.

but when i think back on everything that has happened here in this colorless, vanilla abode, i feel so grateful. for the dinner parties and the in-love evenings and the roommate chats and the cooking experiments and the morning scripture time and the sleepovers with visitors. but also for the nights crying myself to sleep, and the hard goodbyes and the defeated afternoons, and the sunday evenings prickled with dread and the saturday mornings feeling lost. this bland little house in this bland little neighborhood has become a part of me, has interwoven experiences that i’ve needed into my person, and has been steady and secure through it all.

i am ever so thankful to come home to a place that is warm and safe and clean, and inhabited by people who are striving to be good. and somehow, this beige house has become a home.

“we shape our dwellings, and afterwards, our dwellings shape us.” –winston churchill

{picture from my first weekend living in east palo alto, january 2012}

{more on houses and homes here and here and here}


  1. It was great to see you last weekend. Call when you want to come for dinner!

  2. Aww, Charity. This post does not sound too much like a happy one. Without knowing your present circumstances, I am positive that you will eventually move to a house (and a phase in life) that will hold very happy memories for you.

  3. Your writing is fantastic. Loved this post.

  4. Interesting observations! That is a LOT of moves and a LOT of roommates! Love you!