“Living” Memories

I grew up in an ancestral house. In the Philippines, it means growing up with your grandparents in a house with rooms originally owned by your aunts and uncles. The room would automatically be the one that will be used by their families when they visit for long holidays like the Holy Week, All Souls Day and Christmas.  For me and my siblings, our set-up meant growing up with no room to call our own and having minimal personal space. My brothers and I slept in the same room with our grandmother. The “room assignments” changed when I started living in a dormitory when I was 11 and my father had to have his own room as he was immunocompromised.

I semi-moved away from our hometown during my high school years. Pisay Bicol was 2 hours away so I and my fellow students all had to live in the school’s dormitory. I was excited at the prospect of possibly having my own bed and sharing a room with a few roommates. But since Pisay Bicol was still in its wee years back then, it did not have “real” living facilities. A big hall was converted into a dormitory and there were probably more than 40 of us who shared the hall. We were provided with double decks and mattresses but everything else from cabinets to pails were ours. Somehow, I managed living through all of those for four (4) years…sleeping with lights on since many people are using the hall, listening to variations of sounds and snores, and waking up at 4 am to take a cold bath to avoid competing for the shower at 6 AM.

I moved farther away from home during college. While in UP Diliman, I lived again in dormitories.  There are students who don’t like living in UP Dormitories because they find the facilities old (circa 2005+). But to me living in UP Diliman dorms was a solace. Fees were cheap. I paid a monthly rent of Php 3000 which already included food for 6 days a week. I had a bed and room to call my own with only one to two roommates. The bathrooms and toilets were cleaned regularly. I had an internet connection which enabled me to be a working student. There were different committees that you could join. There were regular dorm activities where residents could bond and have fun. My time in UP remains to be some of the best years of my life.

After graduating, I lived with my relatives for sometime. I had a room for myself but then there’s always a nagging feeling at the back of my head that I was still living in a borrowed space. The feeling does not change either when I visit our hometown. I literally have no bed there anymore. Even the space in what used to be my cabinet is almost non-existent already.

Now, I stay in a rented apartment with my brother. Still not mine but at least while I am renting the space, I call it “mine”. It’s looking like sh*t right now but I always find comfort in curling up in my bed and realizing no one’s going to bother me.

Don’t get me wrong though. I loved all the experiences I got from the variety of living scenarios I encountered. I would have not met some of the best people I know in my life if it weren’t for these experiences. It’s funny though, despite having lived with many people, I still find it difficult to sleep with the lights on, I still easily wake to any form of noise, and I never learned to tolerate other people’s mess.

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