A Portlander Writes Instagram Flash Fiction with a Real Estate Twist

Sharlyn Anderson imagines the lives and loves contained within Oregon homes.

By Sarah Hutchins March 27, 2018 Published in the April 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

0418 dispatch we live here collage ursdft

Sharlyn Anderson finds inspiration in light striking a house just right, or some distinctive feature—maybe a chimney, or a gargoyle. She stops, takes a picture, and imagines the lives and loves contained within Oregon’s bungalows and colonials. In January, the 27-year-old began posting photos on Instagram of homes she’s passed. In place of the usual caption or description, Anderson adds original fiction.

“I’m searching for how can I show what I think might have happened in this home,” she says of the project, @weliveherenow_. “By telling that story, it honors the lives there.”

So far her account has attracted more than 6,000 followers, and features houses from Portland, Astoria, and her hometown of Crow, Oregon. (It’s a crossroads west of Eugene.) Anderson, by day a designer for a real estate staging company, plans to add more cities during a cross-continental road trip this summer.

Excerpts from three of her most popular tales so far:

0418 dispatch we live here yellow dv2imv

We live here now.
Yes, really. I’ll never forget the look on your face when we pulled up after our (what I thought was) impromptu weekend getaway to ... this. Our once blue home painted traffic line yellow....  I burst into the type of laughter you can’t control, which only made matters worse. You looked like you were ready to kill a man. We’d been talking about painting it since before we moved in. Yellow, we decided, just like each of our childhood homes. Mine was soft, like buttered popcorn or the lighter part of a daffodil. Yours resembled more of a deep muted mustard without the orange. Both with a bright white trim. But you didn’t explain any of that to the painters. You just said, “Yellow.” But it’s ok, really. I already have the loudest laugh on the block, why not have the loudest house?

0418 dispatch we live here middle ghnmgk

We live here now.
Isn’t it something? If you would have told me at 19 that the enchanting, albeit loud, person I just met in the backyard of my neighbor’s house would be the same person l have babies with ten years later, I wouldn’t have believed you.... If you would have told me that we’d adopt a dog, and then that dog would pass, leaving both of us devastatingly heartbroken, I would absolutely not have believed you.... Each month turned into another, and every year added one more until we were just here. Doing it. The way we changed together ensured we’d keep doing it, promised we’d still be here another baby from now, another move, another decade. So now if you were to ask me if I see us growing old here, I’d believe every word. And I’d cling to them as if my life depended on it, because it does.

0418 dispatch we live here snow zm3niy

We live here now.
We met in our fifties, after I’d built my life and you’d built yours. I never expected to live with a partner again.... I had books to write and trips to take and dammit, I was the happiest alone.... I’d been on my own for so long that when you introduced yourself after a book reading, I didn’t think anything of it. When you emailed a couple weeks later to ask me to coffee, I still hadn’t caught on. It took 6 cups of coffee, 2 bottles of wine, and a gallery visit for me to realize you were also captivated. Something in me had shifted. So after sixteen months of gardening in your yard, tea on the front porch, and reading by the fire, you asked me to move in. The light poured into the attic bedroom and covered your bare back in warmth and l breathed deeply for the first time in what felt like years.

Filed under
Show Comments