In my entire 27 years of existence, I have lived in three different houses. My parents got married two days after my paternal grandmother died. They planned on settling down on their own after the wedding; however, my grandfather requested that they stay for a while until he recovers from grief and loss. My parents completely understood the situation, so they adhered to my grandfather’s plea. My mother got pregnant with me a month after they got married. We stayed in my grandfather’s house for a good two years until my parents decided to move out.
Most of my childhood years were spent in the second house that we lived in. My maternal grandparents had a two-storey house that looked like a three-door apartment. The first and second doors were my grandparents’ living room and kitchen/dining area, respectively. The bathroom in their living room shared a wall with another bathroom by the kitchen, allowing easier access to and from each room without going outside. The third door was our house. The ground floor had the living room, dining area, bathroom, and kitchen/laundry room. Our bedroom was upstairs. Outside, the entire 3-feet wide hallway from the gate all the way down to our mini-dirty kitchen served as my playground. I was not allowed to go past the gate because we were only a few blocks away from an area with illegal settlers, and it was not safe to play outside. I did not have an entirely deprived childhood, though, because I spent most of our weekends with my cousins at my paternal grandfather’s house.
We lived in that second house for eight years. A family of five managed to sleep in one bedroom with two queen-sized beds. One for my parents, and another for us three siblings. None of us complained about not having our own bedrooms because sleeping in the same room with our parents was an advantage; it made us feel more secured.
By the time I turned nine, my parents decided to put up our own house. My mother inherited a piece of land from her father, and this was where our first house was built. My mother was pretty much hands-on during the construction of our house. She picked my brother and I up from school (the youngest was still a baby) every day, and took us with her to supervise the on-going construction. From work, my father would go directly to our would-be house to pick us up, so we’d all go home together. We didn’t have our own car then. It was a routine that I can vividly remember.
We finally moved in to our new house five months later. We had a two-storey house with two bedrooms and a garage big enough to serve as our new playground. I remember only having a make-shift gate composed of assembled wood scraps because my parents didn’t have enough budget for one yet. After all, we didn’t have a car, so a metal gate was unnecessary at the time. We moved in even when our house was not fully furnished yet. It wasn’t complete, but it was livable.
I have never had my own bedroom until I turned 19 or 20. The former master’s bedroom was converted into mine; I also had my own bathroom. I didn’t mind sharing a room with my brothers, but we’re all growing up, and privacy could eventually become an issue. In the 18 years that we’ve lived here, we have managed to improve and add another bedroom downstairs and a laundry room in the main house. We have also acquired the neighboring lot where a half basketball court, a guest room (what used to be my maternal grandfather’s room) with a bathroom, and a roof deck spacious enough to host an affair now belong.
When I got married, my husband moved in with me. Eventually, I will clear my bedroom with all of my things, and my youngest brother will be its new occupant. I feel bittersweet about it, but this house will forever be my home.