Grown

Monday 29 October, 2012:

I can’t sleep. Lying there, I hold my own hand, stroke my own palm. It feels like someone else’s, trustingly. Then I cry my eyes out. Just cry, cry.

Fall asleep, wake up to the alarm on my phone, just tired as fuck.

 

School’s alright though. Break time: Carlos, Slade, Zion… and then about half of  9 Social. The way they just bumble in. And my boys don’t mind (they just look slightly bemused by the influx of people.)

Slade is wired to the days. He comes in before school, I find him in my room when I get back from the bathroom. First thing he says to me: “I had a out of it night…”

“Why was it out of it?” I asked.

“I got really out of it.”

“Aye?” I said. “On what?”

“That legal high stuff,” he tells me. “Fuck; outa it buzz, I was playing up.”

“Doing what?”

“Stepping everyone out and… just being a dick, that’s what they told me. Tryna smash all the bros. All I remember is Carlos holding onto me, telling me it was alright.”

“Fuck, Slade,” I say, alarmed. “Be careful. Synthetics can be real dodgy, that’s what I heard. I’d rather you were on the natural stuff.”

“Ohwell… it’s a out of it buzz,” he says, with a little laugh.

“Nah, you don’t even remember it, it was probably a stink buzz.”

“Dunno…” he shrugs.

 

The rest of the morning he’s all jittery and hyped, looking for a lighter, dashing back and forth for half ciggies. In, out, and round about. Eats one of Zion’s sandwiches in a couple of squashed up bites; almost the first time I’ve see Slade eat actual ‘food’ at school (apart from lollies and stuff). Prances around, coughing and grinning. I don’t think he’s really wound down off his ‘legal high’, and I tell him this.

“Probably right, Miss,” he says, shaking his head.

So after school, I let Zion and Slade come over to paint. I see Slade slowly come down to earth, as they finish a very ‘busy’ LIFT  board. Maybe too busy. Slade puts eyes in everywhere: eyeballs, teardrop eyes, eye of Horus, an Illuminati style eye in a pyramid. “That was a algood painting jam,” he says afterwards, with weary satisfaction. His nervy edge seems to have almost dissipated, and his arms kind of drift up and down slightly. The movement reminds me of a baby’s involuntary ‘wave’, and my heart goes out to him.

Once I’ve dropped him off, it’s just me and Zion in the car. Zion says, in the nicest and most loyal way: “Miss, I think we might have put too much on the board… I didn’t wanna say that to Slade.”

 

As I drive home, I think, idly, how most of the people I’m close to are people I have to draw a certain ‘line’ with. It’s not school’s line, that’s for sure. I’m a thousand miles away from there now. There’s still a line, though. It’s not a demarcation line, we’re not in different worlds. But the compatibility, resonance thing is just one part of it. Like seeks like… but I got the years on them. Even Kepaoa, who’s almost 20 now. I have to be the protective one, the practical one; the one who thinks like an adult.

So, when Slade and Zion are painting today. Slade says, just very frankly and openly, “Miss, why can’t I have a sesh round here?”

“Because I got to draw a line somewhere,” I tell him, honestly.

“But Taurangi…” he begins. He knows that Tau stayed here for a while, and that he’s a dealer.

“Yeah, that’s different.”

“How come it’s different?” he asks, accepting this and yet curious.

“Cos technically, you guys are still my students. Bottom line. Tau’s left school, it’s different. And not just that…” I continue, thinking about this before I go on.

Slade waits.

“Tau… needs it,” I explain. “It wouldn’t be fair to say he couldn’t have a sesh, when he lived here. He needed like… about six a day, sometimes.” I hear myself sounding so patient and sensible that it actually cracks me up, and I snort at myself. Slade laughs too, saying, “True though, some people need it just to get through the day, aye.”

“Sure do,” I murmur. “And Tau’s one of them.”

“K Miss,” says Slade. “That’s awguds then. I can have a ciggie here though, can’t I?”

“Course you can have a ciggie,” I say, and he lights up immediately.

 

Nah, nah… I can’t have them doing drugs at my place, though I don’t think it’s as simple as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. I have to hold all the things in my head, weigh up all the various factors that determine and over-determine a situation. The law, for one thing. The job I have, and get paid for. The trust parents have, that their kids are safe and looked after. Maan, even Sheree and Scott always knew Tau was gonna be safe and looked after, round here. Though of course, that means different things to different people. And then, my own need to have a set of ethics that actually means something, and that I can justify. One that takes into account the differences between people: between Tau and Slade, Slade and Zion, Zion and Kepaoa… just to name a few.

Sometimes it pains me, that at the end of the day, I do have these ethics. I have to stand at a little distance to my emotions. I know it, and I’m ok with it. But often times it makes me feel wistful, as well. Cos I need both. I need to feed my emotions, same time as my rationality. And right now, I’m tired of thinking. Tired of it. I love these lil gangstas, but I also wanna have friends, you know… other grownups.

Guess Tau’s always gonna be different, in a way. And yet, even with Tau I could still stand aside, when I had to. Still be the protective one, the fully grown one. Ha, funny that I put it that way. But that’s exactly how it feels. I feel like Tau and me are two peas in a pod, sometimes. I’ve said it before: if we were the same age, there’d be nothing to stop the chaos.

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