I grew up totally appreciating the sacrifices my parents made to enable my family to live in Australia. My family were lucky. We were able to purchase a house fairly quickly once arriving in Australia and we were helped by the nicest Australians around. This was the early 1980s and yes I was much younger and more naive but I truly believe people were kinder and less afraid back then. I knew salt of the earth Australian families who helped my family out beyond belief , who had kindness in their hearts, who were good people.
There were car lifts up to the local Catholic school, child minding, playing in backyard pools, lunches over at each other’s places, bike rides around the neighbourhood, going under the sprinklers and on the slippery slide in cozzies. BBQs and watermelon pip spitting challenges. This was a time of true community spirit and we even looked different. Yes there were the few odd bods who told us ethnic kids to go back to where we came from, but our Aussie friends with more gusto knew how to give it back- and I did learn from the best of them!
It saddens me today to find myself in a totally different socioeconomic neighbourhood. There is no community spirit in this neighbourhood other than shows of pretence to indicate you are actually a nice person and then the interaction stops there (god forbid if you ever ask for a favour!). I feel everything around me has changed or have I changed?
I drove back to the neighbourhood of my childhood and bumped into one elderly neighbour who remembered me and my family. She mentioned most of the neighbours had moved to regional Queensland or had gone to regional New South Wales. Mass exodus of nice Australians from my life.
I don’t know whether I’m less open than I was in my youth but I certainly feel more judged and more lonely these days. A few years back I became a really close friend to a personal trainer who fitted the stereotypical ‘Aussie’ person. She was lovely but her husband got involved. Being a working class racist with a chip on his shoulder especially about my apparent wealth (I’m not wealthy) he managed to poison the relationship by unfavourably rubbishing me to her. We soon fell out of friendship and I dare say, I do miss her. In fact I miss all those open minded good folk who couldn’t give a damn about my phenotype. Where the bloody hell are you?