‘Just pay attention
Here’s a story bout my lil’ homies, straight thuggin’
Lil’ bad young mothafuckers, gotta love em..’
(2Pac – Lil’ Homies)
Sunday 2 August, 2009:
I’m listening to Tau’s CD which makes me feel oddly (or not all that oddly) comforted. The song that gets me right in the heart at the moment is Lil Homies, cos then I just see their faces: ‘Lil bad young mothafuckers, gotta love em…’
Argos and Tau, Dimario and Alexander, Nio, George and Conor… and I wonder, honestly wonder how I’m gonna hang on when I’m so fuckin’ tired. I wonder how long I can stay so tired and still stay under the radar with my guests and the walk-throughs.
No space, make space, bring em in, sitting on my floor like tired puppies, bombing their affiliations and decorating the school with their efforts… off for a smoke at lunch, their caps and hoodies on, then sitting outside my room ready for class; SirC and Hazard listening intently in 11 Social.
My DVD being passed around the taggers of the district; so much for Nio keeping that quiet, Aperamo even tells me he’s seen it now: “We watched it in the garage at someone’s place…” It goes forth again, hits upon hits now apparently decorating it, it’s like the venerated object… they say wonderingly, “Where did you get it… we can’t get it.”
I trust them so willingly – I just do. It’s been a source of great inspiration to me that they know how to keep things on the low at school, know much better than I do. I watch and learn. They don’t look like they would know, but they’re masters of the art of subterfuge; even George has his two friends to keep him on track: Conor and Hala, who slip him through somehow, who get him moving, who stop him from hooking any other body who pisses him off on the road to school. They are his guides as he makes his way along, and his quick guards.
He arrives at my door with his face flushed and scowling. “Fuck, Miss – almost smashed someone…”
“Dunno,” he shrugs. “Someone on the way here.”
“It’s ok Miss, we get him here,” Conor says.
I remember Riley saying, “He never smiles,” and I look at George’s face, which is softening… perplexity replacing belligerence… relaxation gradually easing out perplexity.
‘Gotta love em…’ yup, that’s what I think. Tau strolling, with his checked shirt hanging out from under his school jacket. He gets bigger every day, his air of solid wariness increases, and he keeps his intentions on the low; whatever they may be. But out of the whole lot of them, it was Tau who, from the very first moment, always read me right. I have a special fondness for him because of that. The mystery man; he don’t say much, and what goes on with him I don’t know – but I’m willing to bet his mind’s moving real fast. I would never underestimate Tau, never have.
Then the other man of mystery – Alexander. Sometimes he’s in kind of a trance, his eyes go swirly, then he just focuses like someone flicked a switch. His comments are only random if you assume he’s been daydreaming, when in reality it’s a logical sequence, the culmination of a thought process which operates first. And the impeccable Dimario, who is more ironic and laidback than any 16 year old boy has a right to be. And Nio, the escapee – the drawling, cocky, shimmering Nio, who runs school after his own fashion: swaggering, unhurried, then leaping through a gap so small that no-one else could have spotted it.
And Argos, who is gentle, starry… and who trusts me; who I’ve calmly walked across the line for, and into no-man’s-land, which is where I find myself now, an observer no longer. I’ve gotta start moving fast, and getting wise, and if I can’t find a way to do it then I’m no use to him or to anyone. Gotta be so much smarter, and I don’t know how, but I’m about to learn, I think… could I learn?
And why now? Honestly, every day I ask… why now, of all things… this? What happened to the world far away from that line? Close enough to touch, but faraway, like a snow-globe; snug little bubble of Christmas and vacations and barbecues, of gardens and glasses of wine and ‘lunch with the girls’. It’s there, I can put a finger to the round, strokable, secure little enclosure, touch the glass softly and not without affection, not without a sense of wonder… but I don’t long for it, I don’t have a moment’s hesitation, not even a moment. I can leave it where it belongs, and my mind goes ‘far away’ to this strange battlefield… really, if they only knew, just beyond the glass. Where my heart sings and rises. Where my eyes narrow to read signs for the way, signs for those who care to read them.
God help me, I don’t know what on earth or in heaven convinces me, but this is for me, and I have to do something here.