I grew up in white-fenced, idyllic backyard suburbia in a country at the ends of the earth. New Zealand was considered a young landmass, and a $1000+ plane ride away from most ancient civilisations and war-torn history and century-old buildings of the rest of the world. We didn’t have ruins or significant religious monuments but our fiords were untouched and our water glacier-clear. Childhood as little kiwi meant running across the grass barefoot into wild, black-sand beaches with the wind behind our backs. It meant throwing ourselves into the Tasman Sea, flesh and water glistening and merging as one. Summers were long and heady. We’d kill time by draping ourselves across sun-scorched concrete driveways, licking ice blocks, listening to the loud drone of cicadas filling the silence.
And there was a plenty of it in the suburbs. We’d go to school in the day and fill our neighbourhoods up with play in the evenings. Creeks led to secret passageways, forests were secret homes for elves. As each evening grew dark, the roads would start to smell of sweet smoke; a tar-and-grass blend that takes me home even now, as a twenty-two year old. I would lie my cheek against the warm ground and listen to the still, wondering if there was more.