The rest of the world

Saturday 23 March, 2013:

Not having a good day. Vibe all wonky… at least in my head; I’m not sure about anyone else’s.

I guess it starts last night – I go out for drinks (after taking Kepaoa home first), meeting Mandy and some other people from work at Briar Bar, in the city. I order a very good cocktail, something along the lines of ‘Cherry Popcorn’ (it has various other things in it; bourbon for one.)

But the night isn’t fun for me – I’m not sure why, exactly. I feel as if everyone (including me) is talking smack all the damn time. I sip my cocktail, and then have two glasses of wine, and nothing to eat. And a few puffs of other people’s ciggies, what’s more. And I feel like I say too much shit about shit, you know?

In front of the bathroom mirror, I adjust my hair, and then think to myself how it doesn’t matter what I look like, because no-one apart from the gangstas really sees me, anyway. The rest of the world just sees a ‘place holder’ for something else. It doesn’t matter what I wear, or whether I put makeup on, or do my hair. It doesn’t make that much difference, because I’m going to be perceived as one thing and not another. Here, at this stupid bar, I represent nothing more than my job, age group, race, sex, class. And I don’t even know what I’m doing here.

 

When I come home round midnight, I take a shower and fall gratefully into bed. Two minutes later my phone beeps: Kepaoa wanting to know if he can come back. So I go pick him up (the usual Municipal-Bream-Carthill route in my jarmies).

We’re talking, just lying on our respective couches like usual, and Kepaoa’s in the middle of telling me about how his family are really struggling financially, and tonight his parents were saying he was ‘useless’ – he sighs at this – and then he just suddenly closes his eyes and falls asleep, the way he does. Within five seconds I hear his breathing get slow and regular, and then his head just tilts back on the couch. I chuck the blanket on top of him, gently, and he settles underneath it, as safe and tired as a little kid. And then I go to bed.

 

This morning I head to the gym, while Kepaoa sleeps for a long time. There, I feel weak and tired, probably because of going out last night. It’s not like I drank much, but I guess cocktails are the equivalent of three drinks at least. Anyway, I do my workout and come home, and by then Kepaoa has woken up and is talking to Teri on Viber.

For some reason I’m on a low buzz. I don’t know why, exactly. I just think to myself: Oh, what on earth could he want with any of this? I’m tired, and it’s quiet, and there’s nothing happening, and nothing’s going to happen… so why would he want to even be here, sitting on my couch? And I just don’t know the answer to that.

So I run a few errands. Go and pick up something from the supermarket, then Tau texts, and I uplift him and Leroi from somewhere on Rangitikei St, and deposit them back at Fitzoy.

When I get home again, Kepaoa is just kicking back, listening to music and making a feed. But a couple of times I feel dumb tears just start up in my eyes, and I brush them away.

 

Round 4, I take him home. We drive to Montgomery, just talking and stuff. I feel as weak as a kitten, and with no energy or vitality; certainly no beauty or grace. Just dumb, and ugly, and tired, and unlovely.

I pull up outside the green fence, and Kepaoa gives me a hug, just like he always does. I give him a little hug back, and he goes inside.

I don’t look at him, because I can’t. By then I’ve already started to feel warm, round, splashy tears fall out of my eyes. I turn the car round and drive back down towards the roundabout, and by the time I get there, I’m sniffing and crying. And honestly, I still can’t begin to explain why, yet. Just… that I don’t expect people to really care for me, unless I can do stuff: Always be there, always be good, always do what they need me to do, always be the one who takes care of them. And me? I haven’t got anyone to take care of me. Oh, sometimes I just wonder why I’ve been put here, on this earth.

 

So I’m struggling with this day, and I’m still tired. I get back home, and I make some toast with Nutella and just sit on my bed and write it all down. And that’s it – I guess I’ll try sleep a while. Only sometimes… I just want someone to tell me it’s ok, I want someone to stroke my hair, or put the blanket over me, tenderly.

Ok, kind of getting down to the nitty gritty of it, now. It’s like this: Kepaoa’s at my place. He’s lying on my couch. He’s so completely unselfconscious around me, he just takes his shirt off, sits there bare chested because it’s hot. Or he takes a shower and comes out wearing my towel (the one I used and left on the rail in the bathroom). Or in the car, he says, “Feel this, Miss,” and touches his knee, on the place where he wants me to put my fingers and feel the swollen ligaments. I do, and he sits there as comfortable and relaxed as a kid, letting me press the painful spot – because he trusts me.

And he can trust me, it’s true. He can really trust me – and I won’t let him down. But in my heart, which is sore, I feel lashed by the stinging unfairness of things – that I have these little crumbs of affection, and it has to be enough, I guess. Because I’m just… I don’t know. I don’t know what I am. I’m aware of the trust and care that Kepaoa so  willingly and freely invests in me, and I respect that. But the fact remains that there are times when my heart just hurts, and I wish I could just… I don’t know; wish I could just collapse time, and be 19 again, just for a day… an hour.

And yup, I know… don’t worry, I know the deal. And I accept it. My ethics are real, and important, and honorable. Because I was always meant to be one of the company. To keep watch and shelter them on the flank, as they bump and jolt along, picking their way down over stones and miles; down to the valley.

 

And what does the rest of the world see? A ‘teacher’ – well, if there’s one thing I’m definitely not, it’s a teacher. The very first moment I walked into that class of teacher trainees, I knew I wasn’t a teacher. I sensed and rejected the whole thing within… oooh, about five minutes. And even though pragmatism kicked in fast, it was hard to pretend otherwise.

Gradually, I got to the point where I just about thought I’d die if I had to act the role much longer. Until that first July day, 2009… when without even knowing what I was doing, I just stepped across that boundary line, to make my camp with the outlaws, in a place where no-one looked surprised to see me at all. And so I found it: that thing I’d been looking for my whole life. Since then, it’s the only reason I’ve ever been able to keep going at school.

But there’s still a price I pay, I guess. A hundred and one pitfalls, even on this side of the line

 

I feel better, and stronger, for writing this down. Perhaps it isn’t so bad, to have what I do have. It’s something, it isn’t nothing. And, very wearily right now, I must admit that if I could go back to that singular moment – I wouldn’t choose differently. I’d take the same step, and cross the same line, and I’d do it with my heart singing for battle.

I don’t know, it’s like I said to Kepaoa on Friday: It’s better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission. So if there’s anything to forgive, and anything I’ve done wrong, then I do ask God for forgiveness. But I won’t ask anyone in the world for permission to be the way I was meant to be. I can’t do anything else. Birds gonna fly, fish gonna swim, taggers gonna tag, fighters gonna fight, and riders gonna ride. And if you think we ain’t, then it’s too bad.

 

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