Monday 23 April:
First day back at school, and I feel like a creeping, scuttling thing – a stupid mouse with its stupid paws up to its stupid face. Furtive, and afraid, and ashamed. And I don’t know how to fling myself back into the warm alive feeling of breathing and a heart beating, and love not lost at all.
Just first day blues, in a way. I wake up at 4, and can’t get back to sleep. Day doesn’t look good. Well, I always feel a bit like that at school, anyway. And the first day of term it just kicks in real hard.
I have 9 Social, first up. At least they’re cheerful souls. But honestly – the folders – and I’m waffling on about ‘character’ and it all feels so contrived, and I still have to do it. I growl the big table of boys at the back, for talking when I’m talking, and three of them obligingly split off and come sit up by me. I can’t help but really like them; doing their work like it means something.
And the day’s only just begun.
Interval. The race to pack up, do the board up, get outa class, get a coffee, eat something – barely 20 minutes from start to finish – and my feet are killing me. Haven’t worn heels for two weeks.
And then 12 History. It goes and doesn’t flow… but yeah, it’s alright. Losaline, today… with her mascara on so thick she can hardly keep her eyes propped open.
Then the next quick break; I find these dumb short breaks so stressy. You see even one person, and the time’s gone. And on a busy day it’s just too much. Morris ‘pops in’ – and then lunchtime’s over. At first I think he’s come to say hello, but really, he only wants the key to get into the classroom next door. We talk, inconsequentially. I feel (and probably sound) slightly short with him, seeing as: a) I’m missing the chance for a break, and b) I know Morris is not actually ‘catching up’ with me, it’s a means to an end.
Ok – I get to eat my chocolate yoghurt and talk to La-Verne for five minutes. And then it’s on to 11 Social. Thank the good Lord for small mercies. They are so nice, and interested; and for the first time all day, I feel like what we’re doing, or learning, is… important. And they’re not my ’09 class, but they’re cool. Neon’s back – what a crack up guy. He actually sounds like he’s taking the piss – or is gonna be – and then he doesn’t; he just nails it.
We review the Civil Rights Bill, and: “Why was it controversial?” I ask.
They pore over their books, muttering to one another, “Why… why was it controversial…?”
But Neon lifts his head and says, “I know why it was controversial.”
Everyone laughs – can’t help it – it’s just his pleased, but also quasi-joking tone of voice.
“Ok, why was it controversial?” I ask, playing along, but actually hoping he does know.
“Because of the Federal Government,” he announces.
I say, “Ye-es… what about the Federal Government?”
“Because…” he replies. “Of people thinking the Federal Government was interfering in things that should really belong to State law.”
I look at Neon’s intelligent and happy face, and I can’t help grinning. “Well done!” I say.
The class realize I’m not joking, and crack up again – partly at his expression which combines mirth with satisfaction.
Yup – that class I really like. And so I feel a little bit more at home in the classroom again. But it doesn’t last… and after school at the mentoring meeting I feel like the biggest fake on the planet. Truly.
Fine (who I really like) has provided a big afternoon tea, and asks all the mentors to introduce themselves and share any tips they might have. She says a few introductory words for a couple of people, including me – telling everyone that I’m: “very experienced,” and a “huge asset” to the programme. “And modest,” she adds, as I demur; partly out of politeness, but partly also because I think – oh maan, if they only knew. Elroy on Friday. Tau still in business. Me driving Kepaoa away from the cops; the discussion with Paki on how to frame the story and procure the substitute gun.
I feel like I ain’t shit. A shit, fake teacher… and stressed. Because my feet hurt in my dang heels, and I’m just fronting now – at the mentoring meeting. I feel bad about all of it, because Fine’s pretty straight, and I don’t even think I should be here.
After the meeting winds up, I go to the supermarket to get a couple things, go home – and I feel so low, and afraid, and ashamed. And that’s why I start off the way I do.
But when you kinda rewind the day, it starts to make more sense; this feeling. So I just sigh, and cook dinner… and then Tau bounds in. And I think: Oh… couldn’t I just be grateful for what I’ve got? Which is, I guess, the trust of this very wary and private soul, who came here when he had nowhere else to go… and is still here, to the amazement of his entire family. Surely it counts for something – it does. Against all the odds, and against the first day back at school.
So I decide to be more realistic. Old patterns; maybe you can’t beat them… but perhaps you can use them, to catch that orbit as it swings round. Powerful old patterns contain a huge amount of energy – I’ve said that before. But the question is: how do you harness that energy; direct it somewhere else; do something different?