Monday 3 May, 2010:
At this moment, the wall barely seems possible. I feel like I’m counting my way down to a time where I have to take control of a situation that’s too much for me. And I’ve got the panel of experts looking on: 20 of the most sidelined, free-floating, least likely to participate individuals in the entire place. Waiting for me to get my shit together and lead them somewhere; and I do not think I’m up to it – not even close.
And if I can’t do it… then they’ll casually turn and just unhitch themselves from this coalition, and there’ll be no big deal made of it. Without wanting to hurt me or anything, they’ll just take their leave.
I think they do half-expect it’s not gonna work. But they’re so patient, hoping that some act, or power of mine will demonstrate what they want to see. Because they do want it, and they’ve been so willing to just wait and to give me a measure of trust. But I need to start behaving like I know what I’m doing.
Dimario in History today: there’s something quite incredible about seeing him take charge of his table and get them started on their group task. There’s such apparent industry – their heads are immediately bent around the table – that I think they’re just drawing, talking; and Dimario’s probably tagging. But when I go past, I see that Dimario, his pen poised, is eliciting the ideas from the others, and writing them down. “Miss – is there more paper?” he asks, taking it and issuing it to his group, along with instructions.
I look at him, remembering that first day of project; the day I still hoped Tau would come. I was so grateful to have Dimario on my side in what felt like a room full of strangers – nice strangers, friendly strangers – but still strangers.
Without my really seeing it to begin with, Dimario has been my ally in all this. And suddenly I realise that even today, he’s quietly letting me know he’s available. He wants to help, who knows why? Maybe it’s just because he knows he’s not going to be forced into anything, and he can see the point. He’s chosen to step away from his observer’s position and be involved.
And for all this I absolutely rate him… and I think I can count on him. So now I’m gonna have to take a deep breath, and ask the ironic, the observant, the aloof and the impeccably laid-back Dimario to help me run things. And if he doesn’t – I think I’m fuucked. But I actually think he might.
Tuesday 4 May:
Today I say, “Dimario, what do you have Thursday morning?”
“Um…” he says, thinking. “I dunno, something not very important.” His eyes dance around, hopefully.
“Well – would that be a good time to have a project meeting?” I ask. “About the wall.”
“Yes,” he says at once. “And could it be… could it take the whole time?” he enquires, living in hope.
“Well no, not the whole time. But it’ll take as long as it takes.”
“And will everyone come – from the list?”
“No, I’m just inviting the people I want to see about it.”
Dimario looks pleased at this. He says, “Miss, Jack’s really excited about project. Honestly, he is – he keeps talking about it all the time.” He’s not even especially angling for Jack to get an invite to the meeting; it’s more that he wants to let me know he’s excited about it himself. I see the keenest, most sincerest expression in his eyes.
Wednesday 5 May:
I hear Aperamo, Inia and Noa planning to jump Henry Zhou on my behalf. I’ve kept Henry and another boy behind in 11 Social, and Henry protests this strenuously. “You’re a racist bitch, you just kept me in cos you hate Asians,” he announces, before departing with undue haste.
Anyway, when the boys hear about this, they say to one another, “Shall we jump him?”
“Yup – we should.”
“We will,” they agree with alacrity.
“No – don’t jump him,” I say.
“But Mi-iss…” they begin. “He can’t say that to you!”
“We’ll jump him,” they conclude again.
“And don’t snitch,” they add.
And I think they’re so honestly aghast about it that they can’t quite be trusted. “No, you guys, don’t be stupid,” I say. “I’ll sort it out with Henry – just leave it.”
They look at me with crestfallen looks: wanting to jump him.
When I growl in project today, Dimario says, “Miss – do you want me to shout? I’m good at shouting.” It makes me laugh, because I’m suddenly aware of him standing at my shoulder; having materialised there suddenly and implacably. It reminds me of Tau, so that my heart re-fractures and I push that feeling away – I can’t think of it right now. Not that Dimario is ‘like’ Tau. But just the way he comes to my side then, to support me.
Later Noa says, “Look, Miss, Dimario has tagged on that box…” He examines it interestedly.
I say, “Yes – that’s the ‘approved surface’,” (it’s the 12 History resource box).
“Then – can I tag on it?” asks Noa, his eyes shining.
He carefully hits RICH across the top and side, looks satisfied, and returns it to its spot on the cupboard.
When I’m driving home, I think about this again. Because today the Year 13’s ask me, “What are you doing for project, Miss?”
“Graffiti,” I tell them, and they say, “Holy Shit!” and “No waay…” cos the conjunction never occurred to them.
One boy says, in disbelief, “But Miss… you’ll get a bad class! You’ll get all the taggers picking it – just heaps of little crims running around with markers,” he adds sagely.
I laugh, saying, “Oh, I know who’s picked it – I picked them myself. And they’ll have spray cans, not markers.”
“Aye?” they say, incredulously. “Are they gonna have spray cans? All those boys who tag?”
“Not just boys,“ I say.
“What? Are there some girls in it?” they say, more and more intrigued. “Are any of the kids white?”
“Yup. Two,” I tell them. “And one Iraqi.”
They laugh in surprise, looking at me curiously.
And how could they know? And how do some people read it right – and so how should I begin to express it? Because that’s what it’s come to, somehow – and that’s why I let Noa hit RICH on the box. Because I can’t pretend. Pretend I’m someone I’m not, trying to have the kind of authority I don’t want.
But I’m scared. But that doesn’t matter.