It’s nighttime. The grass is so cold. The dew is setting in. Cars go by and occasionally I hear the music from their stereos.

My box was put together so nicely with tape and it’s still standing when others are not. My son’s is not. My neighbors’ boxes are not. But mine is. I reach up and touch the top, afraid that it will feel wet but it isn’t. I feel lucky.

 I’m tired. I’m cold. I want to sleep so badly. I can’t get comfortable in my box. When I think I will drift off, something else wakes me. I go from angry to sad and back again.

I think of the jacket I brought but left outside my box. Now it must be wet.

I have to pee but I don’t want to get wet. I feel like I’ll never be dry again. I sense bugs on my feet and my hands and my face and it’s hard to keep them off. I think about the nighttime and the little animals that come out in the dark and now I’m sure I won’t leave my box.

I don’t want to be here. I’m angry and tired and cranky. I just want to get some sleep and be dry and warm and not be on the ground. Is that too much to ask?

I think about my warm, dry car. Or my bed in my home, 15 minutes away.

But I am here. We are all here, in Patton Park, for just one night.

We came to “sleep in a box, so someone else doesn’t have to.”

We knew what we would be doing, but it is different to actually do it.

It sucks.

But we will do it again next year at our Second Annual Family Promise Cardboard Box City.

We will do it because no one should have to sleep in a box. Or in a car. Or on a bench.

Family Promise exists because family homelessness exists. Right here on the North Shore.


Please help us continue the generous fundraising we achieved for our first Cardboard Box City, which will help Family Promise North Shore Boston work on finding solutions to interim housing needs. Donations are still welcome! Thank you!

Linda Goodspeed is a board member of Family Promise North Shore Boston.

You can reach her at