1974, that’s where I’m up to. Spring 1973 left the earth sodden under foot and the tropical air heavy and sticky. Life became harder and harder. The social isolation drove me further away from myself into the arms of my inner voice, the anorexic one.
Summer holidays consisted of the hype up to Christmas. Mama loved Christmas so the atmosphere at home lifted. The ‘Regensburger Domspatzen’ sang carols in German and mum sang along. And it rained some more.
There was no doubt that I was running out of steam. I didn’t like the direction my life had taken but felt hemmed in, terrified to change. Rain, humidity and summer tightened life’s girdle. Then cyclone Wanda crossed the coast 24/01/1974 and it rained in earnest.
Brisbane began to flood. Low lying areas sequentially drenched by intermittent deluges. Wanda went inland and Somerset Dam forced to open its sluice gates, filled beyond capacity. I watched the news with my ABC addicted dad. His close friends in Oxley had been evacuated.
The floods dragged me out of my magazines. Billboards went under, their adverts floating away like sodden table cloths. I couldn’t go out. No one came over. The rain made it harder to sustain my self-imposed body maintenance tasks. I felt as though I was constantly holding my breath.
How much longer could I keep this up?
The flood peaked and the water receded. The roads reopened and joined the clean up effort. Water: water everywhere; dirty sewerage infested muddy scourge being washed clean by more water. The earth couldn’t take any more. People cleaned, shovelled and sweated. The chooks sat on the fence watching us clucking away.
The cleaning up tired everyone, constant heavy, heartbreaking work. It gave me time to think. Alone with my cleaning, the voice in my head shut up for a bit. There was a small gap, a doorway opened just a crack to allow something new in. Would I allow the wind to change to touch me?
So much of Brisbane was changing. Unbeknown to me, I changed to, a symbiotic being cleansed by the flood.
In my manuscript, I’m up to the 1974 Brisbane floods. My work-shopping group keep me writing and give me ideas. I’m trying to incorporate all those subliminal influences that buffet adolescents whilst they are finding their minds and opinions. What touches the lives of gorls? This is my list:
- media, music and TV shows
- billboard advertising
- fashion magazines
- influential teachers at school
If you are a child of the seventies too, kindly share the things that influenced your thinking. I’d love to hear from you.