Thursday 26 April, 2013:
Kepaoa and I make plans to go the mall. I pick him up, and the minute he gets in the car, I say oh-oh, to myself. He’s outfitted to the maximum. Everything about him says he’s looking for trouble.
Kepaoa grins at my expression. “What?” he says, flashing his teeth.
“Oh… it’s like that is it,” I say, raising my eyebrows.
“Got something planned?”
“No… um, what you mean, Ms?”
“Like stepping to gangstas, for example.”
“Nah, nah, nothing like that,” Kepaoa assures me.
“Oh whatever,” I grumble. “Just be good, if that’s possible… looking like that.”
In reply, he just grins again, settling back with a happy and insouciant little roll of his eye. I can’t help but be amused.
“Miss,” Kepaoa says, with a yawn. “I still can’t get to sleep. I’m tired as.”
“Ay, can’t you?” I say. Because it’s been like that for days now.
“Nah, I tried… I just can’t sleep. I had a little bit of sleep this morning, around 6:30.”
“Aww, man,” I say. “And when was the last time you had something to eat?”
“Yesterday,” he admits.
“Kepaoa – you gotta eat!” I scold him. “No wonder you can’t frickin sleep.”
“I know… I know,” he agrees. “Fuck, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, sometimes.”
“Idiot,” I say, but extremely tenderly.
At the mall, Kepaoa might as well have a sign round his neck saying ‘Scraps up.’ He’s like a magnet for every gangsta in the place. They eye him up; he just pulls gang signs and laughs. “Little bitches,” he comments (to me, but in audible tones), before saying, more directly, “What you lookin at?” Twice he almost has a fight: once outside Paper Plus (when I go in to get a Vodafone top up), and then again at the entrance to Stirling Sports. Eventually I manage to get him out to the car, and he allows himself to be kind of bundled in, still hyped and bouncy.
“Gaawsh!” I say, sarcastically. “That was a fun shopping trip.”
“It was all good,” says Kepaoa.
“For you, maybe – not for me,” I tell him.
“Sorry Miss,” he says, with a little shrug. I just hate the way peoples always look at me, you know?”
“Yeah well, they will, when you’re prancing round like that,”
“Yeeeeeh, I know, but…”
We sigh. Go home and make noodles.
Saturday 28 April:
Sometimes I’m very aware how it must look to “everybody else”, that I open up my house like this; let Tau and Kepaoa stay with me like they’re family. But I can’t be any other way, even when it’s difficult, which of course it usually is. The logistics for a start: food, transport – just the cost of ordinary, everyday things. Not to mention the additional difficulties: drugs, alcohol, and emotions that veer up and down (mine included). And I have work to contend with, at the same time. Got to make the rent.
Last night, La-Verne invites me for dinner and I stay over. She lives in another world. A world full of ‘Stuff White People Like’. And at her place, I feel it. I sense a big difference between how we interact with one another there, compared to when we’re in neutral territory (such as school, or sitting at a cafe). Our conversation falls flat. We should be pouring another glass of wine, talking about all the things we talk about when we’re not at La-Verne’s place. But instead, we just watch a DVD, and then La-Verne says we should get some sleep (it’s 10pm). Everything is very like the world I used to know, and ought to have belonged to, I guess. But even when I was a little girl, I knew I never really did. And ain’t that the truth.
Early this morning I lay awake for a while, I put some music on but I can’t sleep. I kept thinking about what to do, and how to do it. You know… a place a time. That’s how it is.
Then I get a kind of ‘aha’ thought, round 5, 6am. Thinking how I need to kind of… address the bigger world, I guess you could say. Rather than teachers. I need to think about how to communicate something to others.
I don’t know, but I feel my blood beat hard. The idea resonates. And I just lie there and think, Oh, it isn’t a bad time to come into my own ways. I just wish… I just wish I knew all these things already. Wish I knew how to proceed. Wish I was already confident. Wish I had more to throw at this. But I’ll take what I’ve got and use it, all the same.
Thursday 2 May:
I take Tau to PD this morning. He tells me he was drinking until 5am with the CP boys, round at Clancy; they’re supposed to be doing the same thing tonight. I just say, “Oh…” because what else can you really say?
But honestly, Tau looks ok. He drinks far too much, but at the same time, he seems to have got something back: a calmer and more hopeful look in his eye. And that pleases me in a sense, for it’s a long time since I’ve seen Tau looking that way.
Saturday 4 May:
Marking the year 12 assessments. Done half (ish). Going to get them finished today, seeing as it’s nearly the end of the vacation.
Honest truth, it’s really just money and Slade that’ll get me back there Monday. And I’m not even sure Slade’s coming back – I’m never sure. He goes down the line and goes off the radar, every holidays. Two weeks of drugs and getting on it, I’m sure.
I’ve heard from him a couple times, on chat. Even he wasn’t sure if he was heading back up these ways or not. His head’s not in the same space, down there (he’s told me this before, many times).
But I don’t know how I’d stand all the faking, without Slade. I find it harder and harder to function at school, because I literally don’t care about hardly any of it. I only care about it in as much as I can help anyone else to get through. I used to think I was like a thief in the temple; a spy in the camp. But now I’m just… I’m just barely flying under the radar the whole time. I’m not a very good spy anymore. I can hardly pretend to be part of it. And I don’t see any point in being there alone. So I hope Slade comes back, but if he doesn’t?
Of course I don’t actually tell him that he’s at least half of the reason why I still stay. But it was that night… the night he told me about cooking crack, and cried, and said the only reason he came to school was to kick it with me. I knew I couldn’t ditch him, after that. Because you need somebody, huh? At school, which is a place that manages to be both sentimental and without pity.
That night was not without its other repercussions though. Lois, for one thing. Even though that’s pretty much sorted now. And I think Slade still freaks out a bit that he’s disclosed all this stuff to someone. He’s been cranky as fuck since then, no lies. But he’s a good boy, and I care about him, and I’ll stay for as long as it helps to make things bearable for him. And everyone needs someone to… just stay. God knows I do.
But the fact remains that I have to pretend so much about all the other stuff that it drives me bananas. House this and Learning Team that. Professional Development. Meetings and Goal Setting. It just makes me so tired to pretend and pretend, all the damn time. And even when I’m standing there and my classes are coming in, I just feel like… oh man, can I just quit pretending that any of this is actually about ‘learning’.
There’s some good reasons to be at school, of course. Otherwise I wouldn’t care so much about Slade holding on there. But they have hardly anything to do with learning. For me, they’re about taking your chances, subverting intentions and instructions, and getting through all the gaps you can possibly find. Using all the tiny little things and moments that are either allocated or unpoliced, to make something completely different. And I can’t ever ignore that now. I can’t ignore it when I teach, or when I’m at meetings, or when I have to act and function as the mouthpiece of a system that grinds people into the dirt.
There’s only one way to go with this, obviously. And that’s to be more open about it, not less. Yup, it’s about time I threw something else into the mix. And I guess that something is “honesty”. To some degree, at least.
It strikes me as funny I should write that down, when you’d think teaching might be all about communicating honestly. But to me it’s not, really it’s not. It’s quite the opposite, when I look at it that way. It seems to be all about concealing things. Whereas I want to say things, and mean them. Not just sub rosa, or in some undercover operation. But all the time, so that these things make sense to me. So that everything I do proceeds from the same place. And so that I can be of more use to the people I care about.
In my heart, it’s like ‘Have you tried?’ I mean, tried to be that way, tried to be that person. Tried to open it up, tried to jump the orbit all over again, up to the next level. And no, I haven’t. Not yet. But I’m going to have to. It’s like I said once before… I just want to keep crying for the moon, until that moon comes right down and lies in my arms. Shhh, shhh, and I rock the moon, and the moon rocks me.
I want to try. I can’t not try. It’s a mystery to me why that’s so, but… there it is.