Leaving

Thursday 12 December, 2013:

It’s partly just the time of year, I guess. Everything’s about socializing, and socializing costs money… and not only that, but I’m not really into socializing. I’m not ‘not’ into it, either. It’s more that little things irk me. Like how Shakira invites Karys to the department party tonight – and she comes (why, God, why?) I’m so fakey fake fake, just sitting there while she makes small talk with the social science staff. I don’t want to drink, meanwhile people get tipsy, and then I have a kind of faraway feeling about the whole situation.

I don’t know how the others do it. Work drinks are definitely not my forte. And there’s another one tomorrow (the whole staff lunch).

 

Friday 13 December:

The school year winds up. I have one class this morning (9 Social) then junior prize giving – and then the luncheon.

I get through it. Though at one point a relief Math teacher named Milla (it’s her last day) arrives at our table. Just the sight of her always gives me a bad buzz and today I understand why. Having had a few too many wines, she shows us (with a demo) how she flashes her cleavage while taking the roll, to “calm the boys down”. My eyes narrow, and I go very quiet for a couple of minutes, then stroll over to the block just to get away from her, marveling at what kind of dumb hoe would do that? Let alone drop it into the small talk at the Christmas function, as if it was funny shit. But she’s not coming back to MC, so sayonara and good riddance.

Ross intercepts me on the way. “Are you off?” he asks. “You’ve got that ‘leaving’ look in your eye.”

“Nah, just going to the bathroom,” I tell him – it’s a partial truth at best. But then I sigh and give him what seems at least a proximate explanation for my expression: “Actually, it was that silly bitch Milla. I was going to say something if I had to listen to her any longer.”

“You too, huh,” Ross says, in a summative way, and then, “Don’t go before saying goodbye, okay?”

“I won’t,” I tell him.

 

When I get home, I write the blog post. But the same question: ‘For why? for what?’ is in my heart the whole time. I still don’t know the answer, even though it’s the thing that makes my heart soar. Only… the other part of that thing is riding with the troops – and right now I got no troops.

 

Saturday 14 December: 

First day of the holidays and I guess I do a couple of ‘useful’ things. The laundry, for one, and then sixteen job apps for Tau (he’s got Winz on Tuesday) – and later on, I make dinner.

But my heart is sore, all day. I miss Kepaoa a lot. I’ve never quite gotten over being chopped that way. Even though (right from the time I met him) I figured he was a hustler, I always liked that about Kepaoa – long as he wasn’t trying to hustle me. Nonetheless, it’s made me realize that we all have to stay on our game, in one way or another. No time to be sentimental. But man, I really did care about that egg. Straight up.

It goes without saying how much I miss Tau. I miss Tau’s whole family, actually – I miss hanging out with Sheree over at Fitzroy. And now, I don’t even go into Rutherford Ave,  I just wait out in the car when I pick up Tau. I used to pop into Fitzroy Rd all the time, but it’s different now, since everything happened the way it did. I don’t want to assume anything anymore, and I’m sure Sheree feels the same way.

Oh, things are what they are. But I’ve never quite recovered from that feeling I got, the night I came back and found her belongings all out in the sleepout. The night I trembled and shook, knowing at the end of the day I was just a roof, that’s all.

And I miss Slade so much too. My last friend at school – and I don’t want to be there now either. I don’t know where to go, I don’t know quite where to lay my head anymore

 

It all brings a couple little tears into my eye, but then I shrug. I can’t be as special as I want to be, just by the mere fact of my existence. Nope. I just hope I did something, more than nothing… and that’s as much as I can ever wish for, really. To be there, and to help make something out of nothing much.

Writing about it makes me feel a little more compassionate towards myself. As I go to sleep, I wish… and then I miss… And I remember how it feels, I’ll never forget how it feels – to belong to a place and a time.

And God don’t forget about us, please don’t forget. If any of it ever mattered, then please don’t forget about us for one second. Don’t forget, don’t forget, don’t forget.

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Almost like the old days

Monday 18 November, 2013:

9 Social are super sweet today, honestly. I feel this big pang of love for certain things that can never come again… or not in exactly the same way. Because I remember when I was just starting out with it all. It just reminds me of that, somehow.

Deshaun has forgotten all his work (left it at home), and is preparing to kick back for the duration, until I say, “Oh no, no… I’ll give you a special job to do instead.”

“What’s that, Miss?” he asks, innocently.

“You can troubleshoot for Caleb,” I tell him, and together we shoot a glance across at the neighbouring computer, where Caleb is sitting, and (of course) complaining about the many difficulties he perceives in the task I have given the class. I mutter, under my breath, “Save me from all that aggro.”

“Ok!” Deshaun says. “Do you want me to help him?”

“Well, you could…” I begin. Caleb is still mithering on in the background.

“Could give him a jab first, if you like,” says Deshaun, and his friends grin in conspiratorial delight. Deshaun gets up out of his chair and pretends to step towards him, and the boys shake with suppressed laughter to see the charade, and Caleb’s unwary expression.

And the librarian tells me to put the kettle on, and I make coffee and we talk. I go back and forth to the kids, and everything feels… so easy and so simple. I know it’s not simple, but today it feels simple again. Almost like the old days, when I didn’t know what any of it really meant, or would mean. I almost wish I could stay at MC, if only… if only I didn’t know that things weren’t simple at all.

 

At the end of the period, I lead the kids out into the sun for house assembly. I’m a little bit tired by now, and sit down on one of those big rocks outside. The other teachers are standing around. I look up idly, look down again – and can’t help laughing. Five kids from 9 Social jostle and perch on my rock with me, like chickens roosting around a hen. Lauren and Precious, Ezekiel, Deshaun and Jackson. There’s only just enough room for Jackson on the end. He sits there triumphantly, until Chloe shoos them all away.

I feel that pang in my heart again. I think – I don’t want to go away from MC. I wish I could stay. I wish it was that simple. I wish I could just do the same things over again, you know? Or not the same, but… the same kind of things. I wish I didn’t know that I was meant to leave with the troops. Well, I almost wish I didn’t know. But I do know, and that’s just the way it is.

But ohhh, right when I want to be glad about leaving, here I am wishing I could just nestle in again.

 

The rest of the day is ok. Year 13’s keep turning up unannounced at the office door, like I’m gonna drop everything for them.  Oh yup, now they want to be like this and they wanna be like that. Most of them, honestly I don’t care. A couple of times I just ask someone else to go out to whoever’s there; tell them to email me and make a time.

I keep on telling myself – it’s ok honey, things are ok. You just keep right on going. You just do what you have to do. You’re on the right track.

 

Tuesday 19 November:

Can’t help feeling wistful, and it’s pissing me off. Wake up from a dream I can’t quite recall… and I hear myself sort of whimpering, like I’ve been wishing for something.

And the day goes alright, it’s not so great – but it’s not so bad, either.

At night, I write the blog post. It’s going okay I guess. Hah, can’t even look at it, in between times. Well, not yet anyway.

 

Saturday 23 November:

I write my fifth blog post, sometime between the hours of 9 and 11:30 pm. From time to time I feel a kind of contentment steal into my heart.

Kepaoa texts me just before I finish: I mis rydn wichu latenytc

 

Sunday 24 November:

The schedule’s a wonderful thing. I can’t lie to the schedule, you know.

I feel like I’m writing for ‘someone’, the whole time. And I have a sense of settling into who I am. It seems like flipping everything on its head, for me to think this way. It means all that ‘lonely’ stuff has maybe just been plain wrong. I’ve nursed pain – I don’t know why. Told myself over and over, that if I’m here on my own it means no-one really cares about me. I want to laugh and cry, seeing how much bullshit I’ve talked to myself about what I should want, and how bad I am for not wanting it, and how it serves me right to be lonely.

 

Sunday 1 December:

I have kind of a ‘moment’, just before I begin writing tonight. I lie on the couch, wishing for Kepaoa’s particular and consoling presence, and feel a few tears start up in my eyes.

But then I just brush my eyes with my fingers, and get up and start the post – cos what else do you do? ‘Oohwell…’ I tell myself, in a very Slade-like way. I’ve learned heaps from Slade.

Like positive self-talk isn’t everything. You don’t have to waste time thinking: Okay, do I love myself? You can just go right ahead and do what you need to do.

Conscious and strategic

Saturday 26 October, 2013:

What I’ve been writing lately seems like a kind of temporary measure, some half-attempt at beginning… something else.

There’s a particular energy sometimes, which you need to take hold of as it swings by. I’ve felt this, with the current constellation of circumstances. I get scared, thinking that I might just let it slip past. And I know, you can always start over. It’s true.  But I don’t want to start over. I want to start now.

 

So many of my metaphors are about orbits, or circuits. Well, I have to jump the orbit again, reach the next level. The timing’s right – I can feel it in every cell of my body. The question is: Do I have the courage? Because really, what do I know… and what can I do? And sometimes I think I know nothing. I can’t do anything. But I have to try.

Ok then, strategy. Because the more times you jump, the more you have to stay alert to it. The first time, you ask yourself – Holy shit, what just happened? On 1 July 2009 when I walked across that invisible line, it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized the order of things had shifted, and I was already heading around a different loop.

One day I’ll think about this some more. Try figure out the patterns. But what I think right now is that it’s time to do it again: conscious and strategic.

 

Tuesday 29 October:

I get so bored at school today. I’m over it by 9:05. And this feeling just brings it home to me even more: me and school are nearing a parting of the ways – the ways that have already diverged almost past common ground at all.

I’m not really a teacher, I guess I’ve always known that, but lately I feel it more and more. I do begin to understand what the despised role has taught me, and I’m grateful for that much, anyway. To see, bit by bit, what I’ve been doing here. Oh, it’s a battle zone alright. But it’s not the only one there is. You move forward, you move on. You don’t fight the same battle again and again – not unless you’re a sucker.

 

Slade’s not back yet. This just makes me realize even more, I don’t want to be the one that stays past all point of leaving. Sometimes I try to kid myself, I could hold back… I could. But I know that isn’t really the way it is. There’s a time and a place, and people in it. And the last of the troops are riding out.

I’ve said it before… how could I have predicted all this? And how could I not? Everything that’s happened with us. It’s a mystery to me, and at the same time, it isn’t.

When I try and stand ‘outside’ the events, they give me kind of a shock, you know? Because honestly, how did I know?

I remember the first day I ever met Tau. The day he walked into my room, three weeks late to school, with one book and no bag. He was thirteen. And how did he know, and how did I know, that I was going to become part of it?

I made that choice of my own free will, even before the particulars happened, I guess. Walked into some kind of situation that I’ve feel protected in, despite everything that’s happened. I don’t think that makes anything ‘safe’, exactly. It’s just… safe for me. I’ve never once felt unsafe, but I’ve felt lonely sometimes.

That’s only part of how it is. The other part is reciprocity. And more than that… there’s a lot more to say. I mean, really to say. I need to start forgetting about being ‘normal’, and just be the way I am. Honest to God, the world sings to me, and I just wish I didn’t have any more fear in my heart. I wish I could pull it off. I wish, I wish, I wish… that everything would be alright, and that I needn’t be ashamed anymore, and that I could do it. Bring some life to this whole thing, instead of being afraid.

I don’t know how to do it. But I need to tell the story, you know. I have to start telling our story.

Normal service

Monday 12 August, 2013:

Tau and Leroi come back. I sit on Tau’s bed and talk to him, while he cuts Leroi’s hair. Not a word is said about Thursday night, just then.

But I think about it anyway. How I said to Tau outside, that night, “I have to look out for myself. No-one else here is gonna care about me.”

Tau just took a puff of his cig, and looked at me silently.

I continued, gesturing to the shed. “Leroi’s not gonna care about me. And you… used to care about me,” I finished, but without complaint.

“I do care about you,” Tau told me. “You’ve done more for me than my own family.” He added, “I just don’t know how to say it, unless I’m drunk. I’m no good at saying stuff.”

“Thanks, Tau,” I said. I felt kind of sad and quiet and unsoothed. At the same time, I was calm and almost trancey.  And then, “You are good at saying stuff, Tau,” I murmured, and he nodded, considering my words. Sometimes Tau just gets this grown-up look in his eye, and right then – it was there.

 

Tuesday 13 August:

Someone produces red velvet cupcakes at morning break, and I manage to snick an extra one out for Slade – we eat them in my room. Poor Slade has to listen to me (again): on Friday I’d given him a rundown of Thursday; and today he gets a rundown of Friday. Actually, he’s a very willing and supportive ear and I greatly appreciate it.

I get home and make butter chicken. Tau comes in several times, and we talk a little bit. I don’t know what’s being signaled, precisely. But definitely, something is. Tau will never tell me in so many words, but I think he’s sorry about the other night.

Both boys come in for a plate of butter chicken. Leroi’s so shy, and yet he stays and eats with Tau, and they talk to me some more. Again there are signals being sent: some kind of resumption of normal service.

 

Wednesday 14 August:

Wednesday’s Wednesday – in other words it’s a sucky day at the best of times, but today I really hate school. My most especial loathing is reserved for the year 9 Social Studies programme. It’s not the kids’ fault at all, of course. It’s just the dumbness of the pedagogy which has seen them right through their school careers to date. No wonder they think they’re all that. But I can’t be doing with it, to be quite honest.

There’s only one thing about school that makes any sense (apart from the pragmatic need to earn a living). I’m glad I’m there with Slade, I’m glad there’s someone I care about. Otherwise there’d be no point.

I think about how I used to ‘belong’ there, in some way. I never loved the place – but it was my battlefield. My allies alongside me: Tau and Argos and George. Nio and Dimario and Alexander and Jack. Kepaoa and Elroy. Inia and Noa and Zion… and Slade. Oh I’m so glad to still have one comrade left in that place, where every day I feel like I want to escape.

I get home and there are a few boys in the shed, but I’m pleased to see that not one of them is drinking.

 

Friday 16 August:

12 History – with that one table of ‘mean girls’: Nellie, Kimba et al. I don’t really care about them though, and they probably know it, which makes them even bitchier.

I have fifty dollars till payday: fives and tens. Drinks tomorrow night with Mia; little things – I’m happy. There’s enough food in the fridge to last till payday, pretty much – and probably enough gas in the car, too.

 

 Saturday 17 August:

Tau gets a card from his dad today. His expression of joy at this touches my heart so much. He places the card tenderly atop his speakers, and tells me he wrote to Scott a couple of weeks ago. Stayed up all night trying to think of what to say.

“Aw Tau, that’s cool as,” I say, with admiration and affection. Because I know how much he hates writing.

At night, Mia and I sit next to the window, looking out onto the lit up and rainy street. We order little prawn kebabs and beef medallions, and a bowl of shoestring fries with garlic aioli. Drink two glasses each of seven dollar bubbly; the evening special.

I need money, I think. I need… confidence.  I need to be working on my shit. Really working on what I want to do, so that things actually happen the way I want them to. I can tell you, I don’t want to look back in a year’s time, and feel like I let all the chances go by.

 

Sunday 18 August:

Tau, Leroi and Raphael are out in the garden. It’s a sunny morning, and Tau is tagging on the back fence with water in a spray bottle – this tickles me so much that we all crack up laughing at one another.

“Did you think – what the fuck?” asks Raphael, joyously.

“Yup,” I say. “I saw Tau and thought he had a can, and I was like – what the hell is he up to? Has he lost his mind?”

Tau smirks at me, then chuckles and continues with the project for a bit, before giving the spray bottle to Leroi, who begins to water the lemon tree, earnestly.

“That’s right Leroi, do some gardening,” I remark, in an approving tone which makes them burst out laughing again.

 

Maybe my ‘border patrol’ is paying off, I think. Tau and Leroi (and their friends) have been far more amenable to my protocols lately. Tau even tells me that he likes not drinking every day. He says it saves money, and he’s not as tired – he sleeps better. And he’s thinking straight.

I don’t assume it’s suddenly going to be perfect or anything. There’s so many things to take into account, and work on, and practice – for all of us. But it does feel like there’s some kind of breathing space here, and some genuine shared understanding that we’re all trying to make this difficult situation better, and easier, and just… calmer, I guess.

 

My part of the thing

Saturday 20 July, 2013:

It’s a bright blue winter sky day, even though it doesn’t warm up for a while. And while my mind’s still on the same track: It’s too hard, it’s too hard for me – I’m already starting to push the thought away and tell myself: No, it’s not. It’s not.

And so I take some comfort in that, even if it’s imaginary. Go get my coffee. Just try to smile at the guy when he asks me if I’m having a good day. I say yes, and that it’s a beautiful day out. I try so hard to believe it.

But when I get home and see Tau’s closed off face (“I think Tau really wants his dad to be out of jail,” Leroi tells me), I get another wave of feeling like I’m not good enough. I feel like I can’t expect anything from anyone.

I promised Tau, and that promise stands. But I’m not going to be bowed down before him. I can’t do that.

 

The day winds up happily enough. Tau, Leroi and Raphael are drinking cans of V, which cost them two dollars a pop from the dairy (the store owners must be happy, seeing as there are at least ten cans sitting on the table already).

“It helps us cut back on the drinking,” explains Tau.

“Cos we’re trying to not drink as much,” Leroi adds.

“Good for you!” I exclaim.

“We’ve actually cut back heaps,” Tau says. “And we’ve told the boys that you won’t let them drink here.”

Have you?”

“Yup,” says Tau, triumphantly. “Cos we’re just gonna be undercover, if we want to have a few lazy cans. We can save heaps of money that way, and the boys won’t come round.”

“We like it when they don’t come round as much,” Leroi tells me.

“Ohhh…” is all I say. I’m as surprised as anything.

 

So they play PlayStation and sip their non-alcoholic beverages, and it’s kind of surreal, to see them quite happy without alcohol. Tau has a few inhalations from the bucky from time to time, but that’s the very least of my worries, of course – weed being the least problematic substance for Tau to consume.

I know it’s not suddenly gonna be magically ‘easy’ or anything. But it’s a start.

 

Sunday 26 July:

I barely see Tau and Leroi today. Admittedly, they sleep for the whole morning (this happens when you stay up all night every night, hmm.) But what I’m saying is they don’t even put their heads out to say a single word, all day long. Just stay out in the shed, having sesh after sesh (I’m just surmising here), and Tau communicates via the occasional text.  Only a couple boys roll up later on. Raphael stands and talks to me in a friendly way – meanwhile the shed door is open and Tau doesn’t even acknowledge my presence outside, not even with a hello.  And suddenly I felt heartsick and wrenchingly ashamed.

Oh, I know, they’ve got their issues, that’s for sure. It’s not like I don’t know that. But all the same, it feels like no-one gives a fuck about me from one day to another.

 

I make dinner, no-one eats it. I go tell them it’s ready, and then this morning it’s still there on the counter. I tell myself, oh – it’s nothing, they’re just kids. They just take their path of least resistance and least trauma. But in my heart I think: What? You won’t even deign to have a bowl of food now. Just eat chips and drink V out in the shed, and ignore the fact that someone gives a damn about you.

And this also plays into all my most shaming feelings, from as long ago as I can ever remember. In some ways, I do still expect to be found wanting, and eventually to be despised. Part of me believes I’m not good enough for anyone to love me back. Believes I’m meek, solemn, plain and blank.

So yup, if you wanted to break some old fears, this would be the very time and place to do it, I guess. But I’m ashamed, to be seen and then ignored.

 

Wednesday 24 July:

I go to the gym, and when I come back, Tau is inside on the laptop. Almost soon as he sees me he just stands up and slips out to the shed again. I feel like I barely exist, except as an obstacle.

I take care of a few things, walking around like it’s all ok. But when I get in the shower, I hold my face to the wall and sob, quietly.

Part of me trembles, when it’s like this. I don’t want to slip round like a ghost in my own home. I don’t want my ears to prick up, and my eyes to slide sideways. I think, oh how, how did it get like this? How can it be? And why is Tau even here? Is it just because he thinks I’m soft, and weak, and meek, and blank. And will let him just sit in the shed like a king in his own domain. Refusing any of the poor things I can offer.

I don’t know. My heart clenches and twists, remembering when Tau used to come to me, every day, to sit one inch behind me and breathe quietly, as if he was breathing me in. My own cub, he was then. He was just a young boy of 14, 15…

 

And I promised him – I’ll never forget. Never. I don’t care what anyone else might think. I’m harder than anyone knows, or expects. No-one else knows me like that. But I know I’ll never forget.

Ohhh, how I miss Kepaoa the beautiful, Kepaoa the gracious. Kepaoa, who was always here of his own free choosing. I miss the easy way we could just eat, and talk, and watch TV. Stretched out on the two couches, talking far into the night, until Kepaoa’s eyes would just all of a sudden flutter and close, and I’d lay the blanket on him gently, and go to bed.

 

Friday 26 July:

Elroy’s out on bail again – are they craaazy? He’s never a safe bet on 24/7, no matter how much I want to believe he knows the score.

 

I think about Tau a lot this morning, and I have some kind of epiphany, honestly there’s this one moment when I just… understand it a bit more. No wonder it’s uncomfortable right now. No wonder we don’t know how to get our bearings on the situation. Because it’s never been quite like this before. When suddenly his parents and home have ‘vanished’, and there’s this unsettling space that no-one’s quite sure how to fill. And then, how I am with Leroi is different to how I am with Tau, which makes the whole underlying dynamic different. Tau’s trying to be the ‘adult’ for Leroi, and so am I.

But I’m not the mother here – and I don’t want to start acting like that, even if I’m worried about them both. I have my own role, and it’s not a parental one, and it’s certainly not an institutional one, either. I guess I’m still figuring it out… what it means to be me, here, right now. What does it mean, what’s it ever meant? And how can I do this without submission? Cos honestly, I have to be free right now. I love Tau so much, and at the same time, I need to do my part of the thing. Whatever the fuck that is.

 

 

Valuable

Tuesday 5 June, 2013 (contd):

Kepaoa texts again after work, to see if he can get a ride to Municipal. I’m going to the gym, so I tell him I’ll let him know when I’m done.

A while later, I message him to say I’m coming. Only this time, when he replies, he asks if I can take Teri home as well.

I say it will be ok this one time, but I’m tired, and it’s a lot of gas – and it’s getting late. I add that she has to rely on her family and not me.

 

When I get to Arahunga, they keep me waiting half an hour. Kepaoa texts to say he’s ‘tidying up’, then ‘looking for the key’… and meanwhile, I’m just sitting in the car, cold and resentful. I text him back a couple of times, to let him know I’m not happy, and even though he apologises for the delay, I still feel used.

Eventually they come out. Teri says, “Hi Miss,” just as if nothing is up. I look at her, and then at Kepaoa (who also seems quite untroubled by the situation). They bundle their stuff (couple of large bags) in the boot, and get in, casually. I feel the frustration and fatigue of the day bubble to the surface, and along with it comes all the outrage I’ve been keeping on the low. I berate them for keeping me waiting so long, telling them that if they ask someone to pick them up at this time of the evening, they should be ready. Then I tell them they’re acting like little kids, expecting the whole world to revolve around them. I’m actually yelling, I think. I don’t really know, now. I just know that Kepaoa looks at me then like he’s the one who has a right to be angry. I see it in his eyes. This just enrages me even more, and when he gets out of the car again and tells Teri to come with him, I spring out too, and growl him again, saying he shouldn’t be walking away, but apologizing to me instead. But they take their bags and go back up the drive, and leave me there.

I sit in the car, kind of shell shocked. I don’t let myself cry. I text Kepaoa, ask him to come out again. He replies just to say they’re catching the train. I say I’m sorry for yelling at him. He just says ‘dw’, and ‘apology accepted’. Then my phone runs out of charge, so I give up and go home.

 

I take a shower, then write it all down, to soothe myself I guess. I don’t know what else to say. Just that I’m so tired of thinking I’m the one who’s not allowed to have feelings, or get angry. Thinking I should put my own needs underneath the needs of others, just serving them without complaint. Because why else would anyone want to be with me. What other reason would there be?

It huurts so much, right now. And this is why. Because with Kepaoa, for a little while… I let myself imagine that I was cared about, too. Just in a way, you know. Just in a way. And it hurts to know that it isn’t so.

 

Then I start to cry. Tears trickle down my nose, and I feel ugly and disgusting, thinking that Kepaoa turned away. Told Teri to come with him, and went away. I’m not perfect. I can’t always do it, and today I couldn’t do it, and that’s enough to pull the rug out from under me, huh. It’s enough to make someone turn right around and leave me standing there in shame.

Imagined he cared about me, huh? That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.  Kepaoa cares about Teri; cares about his mum and dad, brothers and sisters. He doesn’t care about me! I’m just ‘Miss’. I got a car for rides, a warm house, food, a comfy couch. I stroke his ego, give him attention, all for free. And if I can’t do that stuff: night and day, day and night… then I got nothing of much value. Maybe nothing of value whatsoever.

And yet, I felt like maybe… I was cared for right back. How dumb is that?

 

Gonna cut my losses, round about now. For I am really, really tired. And I couldn’t be perfect. It was never a possibility. Everyone gets tired sometimes; gets angry. That day of course came. And just like that – I wasn’t valuable anymore.

Why is it that for me, it feels like there’s no second chances? No clemency, no forgiveness, or tenderness. I always think I’m only a few seconds away from the severing of ties. What’s wrong with me, that I don’t get what other people get. Love and loving kindness, you know. I can only give it, I reckon I can’t get it back, or not for long.

I should go to bed now. I’m tired, and I got school tomorrow. Cut my losses and go to bed. Illusions – just let them go, let them go.

 

Wednesday 5 June:

Last night I’m so tired that I actually sleep. So this morning I get up like normal and go to work. But my strong emotions scare me. Day job… I don’t know if I can see it like that. I wish I could, but honest truth, it mashes with my mind. I don’t know how long I can keep going with it. Or am I just going to explode and everything come pouring on out, the way it probably ought to have done a long time ago.

 

There’s a bit of ‘Noa’ business to take care of, just before lunch. He texts to say he needs a letter for WINZ, giving the dates of his enrolment at MC. His appointment is at 11:40, and so we have about 10 minutes to do this thing. I can’t access his student records (as he’s not a current student), so I write a letter, add dates – using my own records to check his EOS date – attach the school logo, and print it out at reception. Then Noa comes to school to pick it up.

When he gets out of the car, I feel a wave of longing for those days that seem to have been totally swept away, now. The days when I had a lot of compadres there. When it didn’t seem so hard, because I wasn’t alone.

Noa stands and looks around in a 360˚sweep, saying, “Man, it’s been a long time since I been here.”

“Aww, I know,” I say. “It’s not the same here anymore without you guys.”

He puts his arms round me and hugs me tight.

 

At lunch, I go round to Fitzroy. Mack barks like crazy again, slavering and lunging right across the fence towards my face. “Fuck off, Mack,” I tell him, feeling remarkably unpanicked about it for a second time.

Tau lets me in upstairs, saying, “Sorry it’s messy, Miss.”

“Man, I don’t care,” I tell him, truthfully, and he grins at me.

Scott is lying on a mattress on the floor, looking sick. He’s ok about me coming in though. Tells me they have to be out in a month. And we just talk about Housing NZ and the possible ways things could proceed. I don’t know how it works, really. But I don’t mind finding out. It gives me something to think about, I mean to take my mind off feeling so sad.

 

Because I’m sad alright – and I just feel that way all day. There are a couple of times I almost cry, thinking of how I usually take Kepaoa to training and then hit the gym myself. I work real hard, at the gym tonight. I can feel my muscles tighten up and bounce that bar. Eyes full of tears, just working out some kind of pain. Once or twice I kind of whisper, just into the air: ‘Please don’t leave.’

When I get home I’m stricken, looking across at Kepaoa’s couch. Did he honestly think I was going to just let Teri walk in and take over. Did he really think she could stay here all day and play house with him? Did he fondly imagine I’d run her all over town, take her back and forth to the city, pick up her friends from the mall? Did he think I was fine with being hustled for every little thing I could provide?

 

Beck and call

Monday 25 February, 2013:

Conversation with Slade:

21:31: miss I’ll prolly come skool tomoro, still on pills an the other medicine hahaha

21:32: quest was at sch today. i think he was bored. you leave that other med at home, kay..

21:33: haha ill make sure to bring a extra dose for quest tomorow that way he wont get bored haha

21:35: oh no you don’t! you can both just stay bored. I got more paint though.

21:35: oh yo meeeean i can still paint with a fuckd up leg haha lucky it wasnt my hand ae.

 

Tuesday 26 February:

Indeed Slade is back at school, cast up to his knee in plaster. He manages to stay all day (despite his initial intentions) and I drop him off home afterwards.

Then Tau comes over, and we sort out some stuff with Winz, and the bank. By now I’m already tired, with a dozen things still crowding my brain. I try hard to just sit with it, and not put anything extra onto Tau’s already burdened shoulders.

Leroi and Raphael turn up too after a while, and then little Michael. With not much preamble, Tau goes to kick it with them in the sleepout. I remain sitting on the couch for a few minutes, hearing bits and pieces of conversation and music drifting lightly through the house. For some reason tears well up in my eyes and I make no effort at all to check them; I’m too tired. I go lay on my bed and hug my pillow and cry softly, until my eyes are pink and swollen. I think I’ve had a hard day too, but no-one gives a fuck. I feel like the loneliest person in Municipal, I dunno why. And every time I think of Tau, I just cry harder.

Right after that, Tau comes in again, to ask if I can drop them off at Fitzroy. I don’t think he even notices anything. I’m glad about that. I say yes, and then go and wash my face, kind of automatically. I still look like shit but it’s ok, I’m too tired to be shamed, I just go out to the car and Raphael looks at me curiously, saying, “Miss, you mohe?”

“Um yeah… mmm,” I say, in a non-committal way.

Take them to the liquor store so they can buy some kind of chocolate milk with 13% alcohol, and drop them round at Fitzroy.

Then I go to the gym. Which is actually pretty cool.

 

Later, Kepaoa texts me. He sounds upset; even shocked. Something has happened. Actually, more than one thing.

First, Teri’s been bleeding. Went to hospital, was crying her eyes out – she’s had a miscarriage. Kepaoa is gutted, he can’t stop thinking about him: Babygangstah – feels like he was already born, he says.

And then, what he refers to as ‘an incident’. The cops have been talking to him. He’ll tell me when he sees me. So I go pick him up.

We go home, Kepaoa tells me more; stuff almost no-one else knows about. Last year, down the line, he got wasted at a party, and got into a fight. Beat someone up real bad. Used a golf club to smash his face in. And now, all of a sudden, a cop has turned up on the door, flown all the way up here. Someone has mentioned Kepaoa’s name to the police. And after all this time, they want to ask him about it. Show him pictures of the guy. Jaw all smashed up and stoved in. “It’s like he doesn’t even have a jaw anymore,” Kepaoa tells me, stroking his own face.

He denies all of it to the police officer, says he wasn’t even there when it happened. But, the investigation’s proceeding. So who knows?

At first I’m shocked by the neutral (not cold) way Kepaoa speaks about it. I guess… it’s happened; there’s no point in pretending it hadn’t. He’s visibly affected by it, but not in the sense that people might expect. I don’t think he’s ‘remorseful’. He’s worried, but he doesn’t feel that he’s done wrong. “Oh well, if you wanna be gang bangin’, that’s what happens,” he says.

 

And then there’s more about Teri. She’s asked for 500 dollars. Something about the charge for the hospital. It doesn’t sound right to him – Kepaoa’s starting to think she was never pregnant at all. Fake tears and a fake story. He doesn’t know; can’t tell. Can’t think straight, with everything going on. Hasn’t eaten since the night before.

Kepaoa’s arm and leg twitch, as he tells me all of this. I can see he’s ultra stressed about it. He keeps saying she’s a hoe, a bitch. Then he wants to call her, talk to her. I don’t know quite what to say. I can’t read it at all – I don’t know Teri well enough.

I suggest that maybe she’s lost the baby, but needs the money for something else. Kepaoa considers this, and I could see him calm down slightly, at the thought that he might be only half right.

In the end, I just go get burgers, because honestly, he needs something to just physically ground him, if you know what I mean. And I’m way too tired to make a feed. Kepaoa eats and drinks, and then he is able to relax a very little bit. He lies on the couch, weary but still kind of poised. We talk about the ‘incident’. Weirdly enough, some kind of gang documentary comes on the channel we’re on, right then. I look at Kepaoa’s face, which is calm and kind of ‘flat’, not much visible emotion. But I can see that he’s pushing stuff away.

Around midnight, he falls asleep on the couch, tucked up like a kid. Man, this guy… I dunno. But I’m tired, and I go to sleep too.

 

Wednesday 27 February:

Wake up just as tired as when I started. My eyelids are flickering and fluttering all the way through the staff PD. I can only just handle the day. Stupid tutor, stupid Social Studies. Fuckin sheeit, all of it. Honestly, I’ve never hated teaching so much as I hate it today.

Do things for other people, all day long. Feeling worse and worse and worse. Tireder and tireder and tireder. Trying to be patient with the stupid fuckin’ babies in my classes. Bank transfers for Tau and Leroi. Email the district court to get some paper work which Tau needs. Take Slade home after school. Stand in a mighty long queue at Winz, to drop off Tau’s papers. Go round to Fitzroy, to drop off Leroi’s money (He’s got no ID and the bank won’t let him take cash out; Tau’s new ATM card hasn’t arrived yet). I’m tired of worrying about anyone. Tired of seeing everyone ignore everything. Effort I go to, and for what? No-one gives a fuck, why should they… and why should I? Can’t try harder. It’s unpossible.

Leroi tries making some joke: “Look Miss, there’s two waggers,” (Raphael and little Michael – they haven’t been at school – and all the boys are drinking). But I feel my face go as blank as Kepaoa’s last night. I just say, “Oh well, they can do what they want, I don’t care. I got more important stuff on my mind.” Other people can care about it, I think. I haven’t got energy for caring about anyone extra.

 

Come home, Kepaoa has taken the key from the French doors. D’fuuuuuck, it’s like a frickin heat wave in there, and I can’t open the door. I feel all pissed off; why would he even take it without asking? And right then, he 798’s me, and I call him back, and the first thing he says, straight off the bat: “Oh, hey miss can you pick us up? Me and Elroy. We’re just over the bridge by the gym, walking towards Carthill.”

I felt my blood surge up and beat hard. I just mumble something like, “Um, I’m real tired – and why did you take the key?”

He starts telling me some shit about how it was when he went out that door and locked it from the outside. I just say, “Whatever.”

And then I hang up.

 

I send two texts, after that. First one reads:

Iv had a shit as day. My head realy hurts an im tired. An im just a taxi aye. 

Second one reads:

Il always do whatever i can for u, thts th truth. Im very loyal, if u dnt already know that. But i dnt like being used.

I shed a few tears, more of frustration at myself than anything else. To be so dumb, and to be played by the masters of mayhem. I wrote that once, years and years ago it seems… oh, how little I knew. And I guess I don’t know much now, either. But I know more than I did then.

I feel actually kind of outraged at all of it. To be so frickin dumb. To have gangstas thinking they running it, everyfuckinwhere they go.

I really do care about Kepaoa. And I just… well, I like kicking it with him, and I do care, and I get it, probably more than he knows. But it hurts my pride to be taken for granted. And to think that when I have my own sorrows, no-one really wants to know.

So, it’s better to just give up, sometimes, than be at someone’s beck and call. No matter how much you care. You can’t drain your energy that way, without suffering for it. I should know that already.

And honestly, fuck school. Fuck it entirely.