Wednesday 24 February, 2010:
Project today. Lots of kids come and peer in the window and ask what we’re doing – ask if they can join up. And I wish so much that Tau was there to see it. Well, I know he would be there if he could.
Noa and I mention Tau to one another sometimes. “He does want to come back to school,” Noa says. “I talked to him yesterday.”
Noa – who by all reports is most objectionable in his other classes – has endeared himself considerably to me in project, and is touchingly and unselfconsciously at ease, though he sticks to Inia like glue.
About halfway through, Riley calls, “Hi Miss,” through my open door, and I go say hello. She’s with two girls from my 12 History class, and they’re all quite obviously truant and roaming.
“Miss – what project do you do?” she asks with interest, looking at my group.
“Ohhh!” she exclaims. “Co-ool.” They look in, and say to one another, “Oh, of course, look at who’s in there. Oh, Dimario, obviously.
“What project are you girls in?” I ask.
“We haven’t got one, Miss Tunbridge told us to go look around and find one,” say the girls untruthfully.
Riley says, “I wish we could join this one… could we?”
“No, it’s full.” I say, which is an understatement indeed.
“Ohh,” they say, sorrowfully, and Riley persists, “We could help you.”
“Help me with what? Are you into graff – can you draw?”
“Not… really,” they say, “But we could help you with other things!”
“And you haven’t got any girls with you,” Riley says.
“No-oo,” I agree, slowly. “I would like some female input.”
“Please, please…” they entreat.
I laugh and tell them, “I’ll go ask the boys.”
I go in and say, “What do you think, guys – shall we invite these ladies to join?”
“What are they gonna do?” smirks Dimario, looking fondly at them (his friends).
“Are they gonna make food?” asks someone.
“No! They’re gonna help organize things,” I ad lib.
“Like the fundraising,” I say, off the top of my head.
“Nah… kick them out; don’t let them in,” Dimario says, meaning not a word of it.
And so I send them to Marjorie with a note, and they arrive back in joy a few minutes later, saying, “Yes Miss! What do you want us to do?”
They sit and make a list for me of fundraising ideas… mostly unrealistic ones at first, but soon they come up with a good suggestion; they itemize what they’re going to need, and read it back to me:
chicken patties (maybe)
ice blocks (“Everyone will want to buy ice blocks,” says Riley)
drinks – fizzy – canned
“And we could have our designs behind the sausage sizzle,” says another girl, Shanice.
“And we could do a little dance…” they say, and giggle.
“Inia and Noa can do a dance,” I say, and Noa starts swaying right there, making everyone laugh.
“And someone can do a song!” they say. “Dimario.”
“I ain’t doing a song!” Dimario snorts.
It’s partly silly, partly serious. And this has to work – and the time frames are so tight – but somehow we have to pull it off.
For the first time all year really; today I hit the zone a bit. I find myself smiling, being back with my allies; the kids who get me – the ones I don’t have to try with. Dimario, Inia and Noa, Aperamo, Simeon, and now Riley. Even the others who don’t know me are starting to see that I’m not acting like the opposition – and I see them settle.
But I don’t know whether I should mark Tau’s name on the roll – I decide it’s wiser not to. Instead I just hope and hope we can get moving on things. It’s kind of out of my hands. I’ll do everything I can, but I can’t guarantee what will happen next.
Still, today I was alright.
Thursday 25 February:
12 History. Once again, Dimario is Mr Reliable; managing his group with aplomb. He takes a brand new black ‘Sharpie’ marker with a smile of thanks, saying “Oh, you know what I like!” to me in a satisfied tone.
“Yes, indeed I do,” I agree. It’s a pleasure – a complete pleasure – to see Dimario working away like this.
Scott never texts me back though. They’ll be drinking; they’ll be having a house warming… and he won’t text today either, I’m sure of it. And what will I do, if he and Tau don’t get in contact. Will I leave it? I don’t know.
I wouldn’t force their hand. I’d just text and say that if they wanted to get in touch, to let me know. And then would I leave it? I guess so; guess so. I’d let Tau go, if it came to it. I’d let him be free… cos I get how it is, despite the stupid pain feeling in my heart all day.
Today at interval I’m on duty. Riley says to me, “How’s your best friend Taurangi?” and we can’t help but laugh.
Then she says, “And what about your other best friend?”
“Nio,” I sigh, and we start laughing again.
And for a while I just talk to Riley and her friend Shanice, and Inia and Noa. We’re standing around this big rock, and a few other kids just come over and join the ‘circle’ – all of us leaning in towards one another; elbows resting on the rock. I know I can get through, just because there are moments like this. Even though I’m lonely as hell, I can bear it: I still have something left to do.