Monday 19 May, 2014:
The second-main thing is that I don’t have to go back to work until next Monday, and I’m ok with that (after a fashion) because I’ll be giving in my notice in a couple weeks anyway.
The main thing is that I really am trying to get shit done in the meantime. Applying for jobs – though there’s been nothing much on offer recently. And (underpinning that), trying to shift some very old patterns. Which is probably the most important main thing of all.
Tau brings me back some snapper, from his Nan. I feel happy and embarrassed all at the same time; I don’t even know how to cook it.
“Fry it?” I surmise, when Tau confides that he doesn’t know either. “I think that’s the way Kuli does it…” I try to recollect how. “Snapper’s a firm fish,” I say, half-convinced that I’m right. “It won’t fall apart, if you fry it. But I think you have to coat it in flour first, or…”
“Breadcrumbs?” suggests Tau. “I’ve got breadcrumbs, too – in the shed. My Nan gave them to me as well. That’s how she does it… you know the way the fish and chip shop does it?” he finishes, hopefully.
We look at each other in a kind of relief; Tau has been almost too shy to give me the fish in the first place, let alone the dang breadcrumbs.
“But don’t you have to use an egg too… with the breadcrumbs? I don’t know…” I say, unintentionally sounding rather whimpery.
“Um… I don’t know either,” he replies in all truthfulness.
“I’ll text Kuli,” I decide, adding, “And if he doesn’t check his texts before tonight, I’ll give it a go. With the egg and breadcrumbs.” And we start laughing at one another.
Doing my own head in, at times. But honestly, I can feel something different coming on too. I can feel I’m sick of doing things the same old way. I’m going to shuck it off, it’s going to lift.
Tuesday 20 May:
Everyone’s up; the boys are coughing their lungs out after being disturbed early by a morning phone call from Sheree. Actually they’re having pretty good sleeps these days. It’s just their one nightly sesh (only buds now, not synnies) that still makes them cough in the morning.
I set cover and check my school email. Shakira says that 13 History are ‘struggling’ with working from the textbook. Like I could care, that’s the way relief goes. I reply that they’re struggling not because of the textbook, but because they have shown very little initiative or independence all year (which is indeed the truth). But I guess I could send some extra links through for the reliever.
I go have a shower and think about it: maybe yes, maybe no.
Turns out to be a no.
God knows what I’m going to do next week. What’s more, I’m kind of incredulous that my intent has gone pretty much from keeping up appearances to really not giving a fuck, in just nine days.
Wednesday 21 May:
I spend the whole day working, my style. This morning with Slade, first half of the afternoon with Tau, second half of the afternoon with Nio. All of it unpaid; all of it real work. With a purpose, a meaning, and a result – for people I actually care about. And, what’s more, I enjoy it. I don’t have to fake that, even when the day gets tiring – there’s no dissonance.
Again, that feeling of matching with something. But how I’m meant to produce an income from this feeling, I wouldn’t have a clue.
Nio is chasing a job – this is such an unexpected development that at first I don’t know if I should just take it with a grain of salt. He tells me that he has to get to the agency before Friday, and has been unsuccessfully trying to hook up a ride there all week. In a rather stop-start run of texts (and this doesn’t fill me with confidence either), we ‘kind of’ arrange that I’ll pick him up after Tau and I get done at Winz. I text him from there to say I’m on my way, but there’s no reply. And I’m not all that keen to go on a wild goose chase – this is Nio, after all.
“I wonder if I should just leave it…” I say, thinking aloud.
Tau laughs, at my expression.
“He hasn’t even texted back,” I continue. “If I go round there and he’s not home, I’ll be so pissed off.”
“Yeah, you’ve been busy today,” Tau says. “Doing heaps of stuff, aye.”
“True – but I don’t mind, as long as people do what they say they’re going to do,” I tell him. “Like you and Slade are algood, you always show up for things. But Nio… it’s not like he’s been the most reliable, in the past,” I emphasize unnecessarily, making us snort with laughter.
Then I sigh, saying, “Oh well. I’ll give him a chance. But if he’s not there – that’s it, and he can find his own way to the agency.” And off I go.
When I knock on the door, Nio appears at once, holding his son. Turns out he hasn’t got the latest round of texts – he dropped his phone in the bath last night, and the stuttering communications of today have coincided with the times he has been able to use his sim in his dad’s phone. He’s been waiting for me all afternoon, hoping I’ll come anyway.
After that, things move at speed. Nio clambers into his interview clothes piece by piece, passing me the baby across the bed. He has to change a diaper and do a hand-over (to his cousin) – then we hit the road.
I can tell straight away that this is legit. Nio smokes a cig in the car, nervously shuffling through his folder of paperwork and telling me about the agency (his brother has already got a job through them, he says).
After what turns out to be an hour’s interviewing and testing (identifying workplace hazards and the like), Nio emerges triumphant, safety helmet in hand. He’s scored a job on the roads: sub-contracting to start with and the possibility of going permanent.
All the way home, we’re quietly and reflectively elated.
“Haaard, Miss,” Nio says. “I used to be a little shit, aye Miss.” He cackles, reminding me suddenly and poignantly of many good days at school. And I realize, all over again, that I’m not sorry about any of it – I’m glad I was there. But it’s time for me to leave that place.
I hear from Slade later on, too. He’s going back down the line tomorrow morning, and sends me this text:
miss ive learnt heaps from you im glad i met you, you helped me through heaps thankyou miss
I get that same feeling, the same poignant reminder of good days. Not from anything school ever gave us, but from what we just took anyway. All our chances to make something out of it, any which way we could.
Friday 23 May:
I don’t set relief this morning. I figure what I’ve done already is enough; more than enough.
“Mum’s coming around for a visit,” Tau says, with some faith in my response to this news. My heart sinks a bit, but then I try to just ease that ‘be kind’ feeling into place. After a moment of feigned nonchalance, I’m alright.
I’m learning, honestly. I’m trying to learn as much as possible, as fast as possible, and yet without that hurried sensation of attempting to cram all future permutations into my already crowded mind.
And in terms of clarifying my mind, I’ve sorted one thing: I’m definitely outward bound from MC. I already am. I can tell this in a couple ways, at least. One is that I’m not stressing about dumb things like daily relief (I just set what I can, then it ceases to trouble my mind). Another is that I’ve started applying for every job that’s going.
Saturday 24 May:
I try step class this morning, and find it’s definitely not my thing. There’s a lot of virtuous ‘participation’ to be contended with, which causes my eyes to immediately narrow: no way am I going to clap my hands in the air as I jump over a box. After twenty minutes I’ve had way more than enough, and go do a workout instead.
And doing weights relaxes me, despite the exertion. I feel slack with stored energy, like I have more than enough. In little moments, it reminds me of Kepaoa.
Later, La-Verne texts and asks if I want to come have dinner then stay the night; her husband’s away for the weekend, and she tells me she could use the company out there. So I head off, stopping to pick us up coffee on the way.
Sunday 25 May:
La-Verne’s making date scones for us. Mixing up the dough, she says, “Oh, and I need the juice and rind of an orange, and I bought one specially yesterday – where is it?” She looks around, saying, “It must be here somewhere…”
Guiltily, I say, “I ate it… for breakfast.”
“What?” she says in disbelief.
“I didn’t know it was anything important,” I tell her. “I’m sorry,” I add.
“Well, you could go get me another one,” she says, offended.
“Um… I don’t really want to do that,” I tell her, deciding honesty is the best policy. Because I’m not going all the way into town again for an orange. “I got you a coffee…” I try appeasing her.
“I got you a coffee…” she mimics.
There’s a slight standoff – and then she decides it’s mildly amusing after all. “Oh my God… I’ll have to use a frickin lemon,” she mutters.
Later on, she softens towards me, packing up a container of her homemade chicken risotto to take for my lunch tomorrow.