“Do you think I could live in Wagga?”, a friend asked me via text a few months ago. Enthusiastically, I told her yes. I have many fond memories of my time living in Wagga in the early 1990s. Although she’s lived in the city – Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney – for most of the last thirty years, she grew up in the country, and I was fairly confident she could make the transition. Her new job offers her a promotion, and a new house far from the sounds of the city.
For the past few years she’s been complaining about the sounds of light rail construction. Now, living on the outskirts of Wagga, it’s the night-time silence that’s causing her concern. “For the first couple of nights I couldn’t sleep”, she told me, due to the fact there was “no noise”. “Silence can be deafening”, she added. She’s right. I noticed it too.
After my trip to Canberra, I continued to Wagga to help her settle in. I helped her move furniture and became an interior design “consultant”, offering tips about where furniture items should be placed. I was also there as “technical support”, assisting with internet connections etc.
I’m hoping I was also helpful, with tips around the treasured memories I have from my time in Wagga, such as introducing her to my favourite Indian restaurant. I’m so pleased the food was as good as I’d remembered,
On a personal level, I also paid a visit to the Charles Sturt University Archives. As previously blogged, I was part of a small group which formed the Riverina Gay and Lesbian Social & Support Group. I was pleased to recently discover a collection of photographs, newsletters, and other material we produced had been donated to the archive. I spent an hour or so going through the collection.
These were dramatic times.
AIDS was impacting our community.
The Gay & Lesbian Choir had came to Wagga and won the Community Choir section of the National Choral Championships, amidst some community concern.
And we faced hostile opposite from some sections of the community and local media.
You’ve got to remember, this was long before the days of marriage equality, and homosexuality was still being equated with AIDS.