Monday 7 April, 2014:
Where to begin?
I guess with the simple stuff – the stuff I don’t really give a shit about.
13 History, for starters. They want an extension on their assessment: they’re ‘busy’, some have had Polyfest, they have part time jobs… on and on it goes. I have no sympathy; oh I could care less about their moaning and grumbling, today. We’re all busy, fuckit. And anyway, if that’s the case, how come no-one asked me last week?
So I just repeat myself: No, no, no.
“Well then the majority of the class won’t hand it in!” flounces Teresia.
“Oh well,” I remark unemphatically (thank you Slade, thank you). “Less for me to mark.”
I get (I think) around 11 submissions – maybe 12 – by the cut-off time, 4:30. Lana Te Ua is the last one to turn in her folder. I find her sitting patiently on a bench outside the block (the caretaker having locked up the main doors already). She has a charming air of serenity about her as she waits for me to come out.
Other simple stuff: 9 Social are a more appealing ensemble – still babies, but they’re nice kids. They mess up the library, and I growl, then confiscate Chenille’s phone – an action for which she bears me no grudge. Which is why I like them. 13 History would have kicked up a big stink over that, with everyone jumping on the bandwagon.
In fact, Chenille comes up and puts her arms right around my neck. “Love you,” she says, before floating off back to her table.
Later, I see her doing exactly the same thing to her friend Karlene.
I don’t want to be a better ‘teacher’, that’s for sure – so Lord alone knows what I want to be better at. Better at getting it to run my way, I guess. Better at not caring about the small stuff. Maybe better at caring about the important things (of which there’s some… yes there’s some, even at Municipal College).
Better at doing my own thing, regardless of what anyone else thinks, or thinks they know about it. Because there’s no-one left there who knows me like that.
Ok… and then after school things begin to ‘happen’, things that aren’t quite so simple. And then are not simple at all.
I’m packing up when I get a text from Tau, saying he’s got that sixty dollars to give me. I’m touched that he wants to pay me back so fast, so I text him to tell him thanks, and I’ll come get it later on.
But just as I’m leaving school, my phone beeps again:
Sorry to b a pain miss, bt will I b able to loan tht 60 till payday pleaze miss, we jus got tha eviction notice tday an it sayz we have to move out by tmro lunch time
Course you can have that money for as long as you like tau. But you should get your mum to ring vailea cos im sure th landlord cant do tht. Giving you one day thts nt right, you gota get 21 days notice I think.
Thanks miss, an yup il try get her to ring vailea but mumz stressd out, I dnt thnk she feelz like talkn to enyone miss, r u bizzy by eny chance miss?
Free until 5:30, I can come pick u up if you want
Oh yes pleaze, if thts alryt wth u?
Ok il be there soon
I go pick him up, and he gets in the car, very stoic and impassive at first – I can see right away he’s stressed. I totally don’t know what to do, but we just talk for a while. It’s all I can think of, you know. And he does talk to me, which is something; more than nothing. Tells me Sheree’s just been crying and crying… and everyone’s started packing.
Later, I take Tau back to Rutherford Ave, then go home and ring Vailea myself. No-one picks up, and I leave a long message, feeling like a a dick… but oh well. Then I text him to make double sure he gets the message.
By now I have no wish in the wide world to go to the gym. But somehow, I make myself put one foot in front of the other. I just figure that it’s got to be better than worrying and fretting over this whole thing.
When I get there, it’s already 6 pm, and it’s dark, and I’m tired. But I go do my workout anyway, and I even leave my phone in the locker… I just think, Ooh, how’s it going to help if I check it every two minutes, it won’t help at all. It won’t help me and it won’t help Tau.
I have to take care of myself too, no matter what’s happening with Tau – who I care about so much. I have to be strong, and I know it. I can’t take on anyone’s energy that way, letting it resonate and double up. Instead I have to kind of ‘pop’ mine out, then flatten and smooth it – I mean shape it like a piece of dough; that’s the analogy that comes to mind.
Then my actions become almost… meditative, in a way. I read that over, and crack up because it sounds so gumpy. But honestly, I know what I mean – so it’s alright.
Afterwards, I come home and make a kind of hash-brown omelette thing, with garlic and vegies. Spoon of sour cream and some chili sauce on the side. It turns out surprisingly yummy, considering it’s just created out of bits and pieces from the fridge.
At 9:45 I hear back from Vailea:
I will go around tomorrow and see what I can do.. the landlord must give more notice than that.
So the cavalry’s on the way – and thank goodness for that, because I don’t know shit about tenancy process, and I have to go work in the morning.
I text Tau to let him know Vailea’s going to try and help sort things tomorrow. But I don’t hear anything back, and I reckon they’re all stoned by now – so I try to get some sleep, which is what I need.
Tuesday 8 April:
There’s a full staff meeting after school, to which I half tune in; half tune out. I keep my phone on, and around 4 I get a text from Tau, asking me if I’m busy. And then – rather obliquely – he wants to know if him and Leroi can come kick it in the shed.
I don’t know if he means now, later, or for an unspecified length of future time. So I just reply that I’m stuck at a meeting until 5:30, I’ll call him after.
He tells me that the family packed up last night and left the house this morning. And he hasn’t heard from Vailea all day.
I’m not saying Vailea didn’t try to go round there – I’m sure he did. He would have contacted Sheree, too. Who knows if she’d even reply, the way she is at the moment.
To be honest I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m there for Tau, that goes without saying. And I have aroha for Leroi, I don’t want to part the two of them, not right now when they need one another. But honestly – what are they going to ask of me? And can I cope with whatever it is? I don’t know the answer. I just know I need to change, so that I can do it, and so that it takes me… somewhere. God knows where I’m going, but I guess I need to go there.
And why, and why… and why? What does it mean, and how come it’s me… for this? Because it is – and even though I don’t know much, intuitively I think I should trust whatever strange process is leading me through this time and place. But I don’t know how to control anything yet, and I have to learn.
I feel kind of floaty, after Tau’s text. I just stick my earphones in and say nothing to anyone. I’m sitting next to Ross and I honestly don’t even say one word – my thoughts preoccupy me.
The meeting finishes and we all walk across to the car park, and Marjorie makes some little managerial joke and everyone laughs – except me. I’m almost oblivious to my surroundings by now. But it impinges very slightly on my consciousness. Normally I’d make the effort to give some socially conventional response: a little laugh or a bit of a comeback. Today though, I just feel the attempt fall away, without any attempt to grasp it.
She turns and looks at me and says, in a curious and actually a caring way: “Are you ok?”
“Yes, yes I’m fine…” I murmur.