I grew up between places.
First — the one-room apartment next to UNSW that looked more like an IKEA display (“I live in 20 square metres!”) than an actual abode. Then, a bachelor pad in Randwick with a hill inclined at 60 degrees that would take 10 minutes to walk down and a sweaty 40 minutes up. Then somewhere else, then somewhere else, then somewhere else.
I always dreamt of living in a “normal” house: somewhere with a sprawling yard, and a white picket fence, and a nook in the living room where the sunlight’d hit perfectly at 4PM. I now live in a place that my 8-year-old self who poured over my parents’ Domain magazines would froth over, if he knew what froth meant. It’s a vision of classic suburbia — it’s got all those things I wished for, and it’s even next to a private boys’ school with hot pink uniforms they swear are cerise!
But something feels off now. When I hang my whites out to dry, I can’t help but wring my hands as if they were wet linen. When I nod ferociously at my neighbour’s tales about her daughter’s Berlin adventures, all I can think about is my own performativity. Am I smiling too much? Enough? Will she bring up the fact that she heard me play the song Me & U by Cassie 27 times on repeat last night?
This issue is dedicated to this sense of suburban anxiety. It’s themed Hot Summer Nights because that’s the (very twee) phrase printed on the back of my favourite t-shirt, but also because every time I wear it, I remember days spent eating mushy apples in parks, chasing water hoses we pretended were dragons, and watching humid sunsets from too-warm sheets. I remember a time when suburbia was a fantasy, not a woe. I hope this edition helps you recall it too.