Tuesday 6 August, 2013:
I do my hair and go to school. Text Sheree to check I’m picking her up for a meeting with Housing NZ at 2. Not that I think she’s really going to do anything to get a house, unless someone actually steps in and does all the work, and finds her one. And how likely is that? Not very.
School is a tough gig, today. I’m still tired after last night.
When I get home, Sheree’s waiting for me. She tells me Tau’s been upset, crying and yelling. He’s stressed, she says. Asking her when she’s going to get a house; telling her how bad he feels about Leroi.
My heart sinks, I’m sure she means that Tau feels bad about living here. I go kind of quiet, I don’t really ask her much about it, just nod and try to show some sympathy. But I’m also thinking – I’m stressed too. You guys are not the only ones who are getting stressed. And yet there isn’t a lot to be done with any of it. So off we go to the meeting.
On the way there, Tau seems ok, his face looks somehow clearer – must be the tears I guess. He talks to me a bit. But I think of the whole time I’ve known Tau, and how much I love him, and I just feel even quieter than before.
And then, the guy at Housing NZ isn’t really very helpful. Sheree owes them money for damages and may not be eligible for housing assistance. I’m to provide a letter, so is Sheree. We leave feeling that there is at least a little hope – but at the same time, the whole process is going to take weeks; months, probably.
Back at mine, Sheree decides to start writing her letter at once. We make coffee and get out some cookies.
Then Tau comes in, sits down on the couch, and says nothing. He still has that same slightly clearer look in his eyes, and my heart swoops out to my beloved Tau, feeling that connection with him which never quite goes away, no matter how resentful and hurt I’ve been lately.
I go sit down beside him on the couch, and he doesn’t close off or get up, and so I just say, “Hey, Tau,” and then, “Um… I know it’s been pretty hard lately. Hard for everyone,” and he just nods. This gives me the courage to continue, and I say something like, “I can see you’ve been feeling angry sometimes, and I’m really sorry if I’ve done anything to upset you.”
“It’s Leroi…” he bursts out. “Fuck, he’s pissing me off, Miss. And the boys. I’ve tried and tried to tell them, cos I feel stink as, the way they come over all the time. I don’t even want them to be here. I wanna go to sleep, but they just keep knocking at the door, they don’t even ask if they can come round, or stay over. Little Michael, and Raphael – they’re dumb as, sometimes. And Leroi tells them to come, and then they think it’s algood. I know you don’t want them here all night, and I try to tell them – I just don’t know how to say it. I get all mixed up with my words, and start to mumble, and then it’s even worse. I hate it when they’re loud like that, and I know you don’t like it either. Sometimes I feel like hooking Leroi. And last night I just wanted to sleep, and I was glad when you came and told them off.”
This outburst surprises me extremely, and I just look at Tau, light dawning. “Ohhh, Tau,” I say. “I thought you wanted them there, that’s the only reason why I haven’t really been saying much. I was sure you were angry with me about it.”
“No,” says Tau. “I’ve been angry with them. I just haven’t known how to tell them, and then I feel stink because of the way they’re acting at your place. That’s why I’ve been angry.”
“Ohh,” I say again.
Tau stays beside me, large and pliant. His beautiful black eyes are more unguarded than they’ve been for such a long time. He goes on, “And I feel stink as that we don’t pay for anything, don’t give you a single cent. I’m sick of living with Leroi, I just want mum to get a house, so he can stay there, and the fuckin boys can all go round there. I’d even save up for the bond myself.”
“Whoa…” I say. “Tau, I thought you were upset with me, and I didn’t know what to say, in case you just took off. I didn’t want that to happen, that’s why I haven’t been saying anything. But I’ve felt bad too.”
I’m aware that Sheree is listening to all this, and for some reason it gives me an open feeling in my heart. I go on, “Man, Tau, the only reason I put up with those boys is because of you, you know that? I mean, I like them and all – but if it wasn’t for you, they wouldn’t even be invited here. And even Leroi – you know I care about him too, but you and me go back a long way, you’re the top priority guy to me. And that’s why I haven’t said anything, out of respect for you.”
Tau looks real gentle, right then. He just nods, and I can see a little bit of ease settle into his face, which makes me so glad.
“Man, we need to communicate more,” I add, and I hear Sheree laughing, from over at the table.
“That’s the way, Miss!” she says, approvingly. “You and Tau, you two just need to communicate.”
After that, and for the first time in ages, Tau and I sit and talk. I can see now that his silence has been full of unarticulated responsibility and worries, not the arrogance which I imagined. And I know I have to keep faith with Tau, no matter what happens to us and around us, and how hard the circumstances which press in.
How could I have, impossibly, predicted all this – and at the same time, how could I not? Don’t ask me how it works, I just know it through and through.