Since the day I was born up until now, I’ve been living in a parsonage. Yes, you read that right. A parsonage. I didn’t even know that my home was called as such until a few years back when I had to fill out a form which had a question about house ownership.
Here’s what it means, for your reference:
a church house provided for a member of the clergy.
Our house is located at the ground floor of a 4-storey church building. There’s a pre-school, an office, another office, a church sanctuary, and a social outreach area upstairs. Outside our house is a canteen, the parking area, and the caretaker’s quarters. We are almost never alone. People come and go. I am even scared at times that people outside would be able to see me change clothes even when I am inside a room.
I’m guessing that in terms of size (and size alone), our house can compare to how usual 1-bedroom condo units look like nowadays. Try having 5 healthy and plump people live inside such constraint. Quite tough. We bump into each other in the small corridor. We sleep in the living area when we don’t fit inside the rooms. Just three of us in a room would heat it up so intensely with human warmth that one would give up and transfer elswhere.
Oh, and our house (and the whole building of course) is located beside a national highway where vehicles pass by 24/7. I hear tricycles and jeepneys passing by as I type this while in our dining area at 3:44 am, actually. Try recording songs and videos in our home and you’ll get some background noise, for sure.
We don’t have windows to the outside world, which makes it incredibly hot–as if I’m inside an oven toaster–especially during summer. Thanks to the adult men of our church, just last year, an air conditioning unit was installed in our living area, making warm evenings a lot more bearable and comfortable.
Despite all that, I love our home. I love how I instantly have an extended family of about 300 people who visit the building regularly–instant mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers, and cousins despite having no blood connection. And, it doesn’t hurt that we always get extra food from birthday celebrations and gatherings. It’s also quite convenient to help out in church (a main activity of our family life) since we’re literally a few steps away from usual meeting places.
Even if we’re so squished inside the house, people still love visiting us and even enjoy sleeping over. We bond while letting ourselves fit into such limited space–which I guess adds up to the whole excitement of it. And, everything is so accessible! Need a glass of water? Take 10 steps. Need to go pee? Take 15 steps. Need to grab something from your room? Take 5 steps. (I guess we can partly blame this for our weight, no?)
I dislike silence. I think I got used to the constant noise in our house that it disturbs me soooooooo much when a house is quiet. I’ve learned to enjoy and take comfort in the thought of cars speeding by as it meant that civilization is just nearby. I even wake up each morning to the sound of children (the pre-school students) laughing aloud while they play, and adults talking about happenings in their lives.
People say that home is where the heart is. Well, I can proudly say that my parsonage house has been a home. And it’s not just OUR home; it’s everyone’s.