In Dordrecht, Vincent lived in a boarding house in Tolbrugstraat Waterzijde run by Pieter Rijken and his wife, Maria Aelmans, above their grocery. His employer, Blussé & Van Braam, had a warehouse next door, and Vincent probably found his accommodation through his boss, Pieter Kornelis Braat.
The couple already had three lodgers when Vincent turned up, and he had to share a room with another young man, Paulus Coenraad Görlitz (1851–1921). Together, they smoked pipes and talked about life, took walks, attended church services and visited the Dordrechts Museum. Their room was on the first floor at the back and overlooked the gardens of houses on Groenmarkt and Varkensmarkt. Vincent wrote to his brother Theo:
“The window of my room looks out over gardens with pine trees and poplars etc. and the back of old houses, including a large one covered with ivy, ‘a strange old plant is the ivy green’, said Dickens. There can be something so serious and rather sombre in that view, and you should see it with the morning sun on it.”
With Görlitz’s permission, Vincent covered the walls of his room with assorted prints, in whose margins he had written biblical passages, including his favourite: “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” Vincent read the Bible as much as he could, desiring to study theology and conscious of the fact that he still had much to learn. His roommate regularly found him dozing over his Bible. The Rijkens considered Vincent, with his pious, austere, withdrawn behaviour, an odd fellow.