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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Buy a couch. Put on your boots.

I’ve found myself repeating two life lessons on Twitter lately and thought I’d tell the slightly longer than 140 character version of each.

1. Buy a couch and act like you live there.

2. Put on your boots and leave.


M. Cristina Grabiel came to Fort Lewis College the year after me, but almost 30 years my senior. (Gasp, she turned 50 while I lived there and celebrated with a rather fantastic tatoo!) Her lesson was the importance of putting down roots. “Buy a couch and act like you live there,” was advice someone had given her. She’d always had futons, which means you aren’t planning on staying. When you plan on staying somewhere, you buy a couch. You struggle to get it in the door, you make a large investment in furniture, you live like you are going to stay for fifty years. Start putting down roots. Make connections. Build relationships. Become a regular.

Don’t treat a town like a first date, but like a marraige. Settle into it, find patterns, and buy a couch. Commit to the city even if it might just be a year. Don’t always search for the off-ramp until it is time to leave. It really changed how I lived in Durango my last year there and how I lived in Chicago when I moved here. I might leave Chicago some day, but not without my couch.


My sophomore year of college, I became an RA. Like I said in my one woman show, I wasn’t JUST an RA, I was THE RA. Oy gevalt, was I the RA. The Director of Housing (at Millikin) was Rich Dunsworth. I knew working with him was going to be great, but I almost didn’t get the chance. In October, just a couple months into my RA experience, the entire RA staff was brought into Mills Formal (I think, but maybe Aston) and told that Rich had resigned.

He was wearing his cowboy boots, being a Colorado man, and explained it to us. He couldn’t do it anymore, so he put on his boots and quit. The long story is that his resignation wasn’t accepted, he took a breather, and came back to Millikin. The long long story is that he’s now the Vice President of Enrollment at my alma mater.

Why? Because he took care of himself, put on his boots and left for awhile. It was, if I remember correctly, a week max, but I think it was really just the weekend. There is something to saying, “Look, this isn’t working. Let me put on my boots and get out of here.”

There you go, two life lessons from my life in Student Housing and a very short shopping list for success in life.

1. Buy a couch. 2. Buy boots.

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