Processing the story

Friday 15 August, 2014:

On the positive side, I left MC with some grace, which was probably more than I’d expected of myself. But that was three weeks ago, and – to put it in a nutshell – I can see substitute teaching is definitely not ‘it’.  Not only that, but the agency has been pretty hit and miss with offers of work so far, and just how I’m planning to make rent and bills is, at present, something of a mystery to me.

As well as that, not being able to write for three weeks (no longer having the school laptop) has been a special torture all of its own. At times I felt like I didn’t know who I was, having no way of processing the story, so to speak.

Today though, I bought my new laptop, installed Chrome, and Dropbox, and opened up a new document – and so here I am once more.

 

Saturday 16 August:

The boys have been drunk as lords all day – up at Clancy, with Kost and Zion. Admittedly, Tau’s been trying to avoid the whole ‘drinking with the boys’ buzz lately. But when Kost turns up (unannounced) to collect them, they feel duty bound to go.

Then they feel duty bound to stay – it’s all a bit of a predicament – and by the time I arrive to collect them, Leroi’s vomiting against the wall.

“Don’t throw up in my car, Leroi,” I tell him as he gets in. “If you feel sick let me know and I’ll stop, ok?”

“Ok Miss,” says Leroi. He looks alright now, though.

 

All the way home, Tau talks to me with a tender note in his voice that indicates both happiness and a little ambivalence about the day’s events. Being Tau and intoxicated, all sorts of things tumble out: a few worries that have been on his mind, and a few triumphs as well. He tells me all about their new course; he says he likes the work, and he gets it, and he passed the first assessment last week. The light in his eyes makes me want to cry a little bit. Many times I’ve been scared for Tau, so to see and hear him feeling happy and successful packs an emotional punch. But at the same time, I’m aware that the situation – especially in light of today’s drinking – just isn’t stable yet.

The boys settle in to watch DVD’s and I go and crash on Kepaoa’s couch (well, it used to be), where I pay some intermittent attention to the 20th anniversary screening of Once Were Warriors, before falling asleep with a kind of equilibrium in my heart.

 

Monday 18 August:

Objectively (or at least according to all sensible opinion) I should be trying to get as much relief work as possible. And yet I didn’t answer my phone when it rang just now. It looked like one of the agency numbers (landline, 3-something), and I let it ring. For what? For the chance to work for free. That is to say, I’m going to Winz with the boys, to help them sort out their course fees.

Actually, I know I’m going to do more work today than if I was at school, not less. Last Thursday at Carthill High I was bored for most of the day; really it was just babysitting. And yet I’ll get the $230 or whatever it is… so that’s ‘real’ work, right?

Everything feels so precarious that it freaks me out. I tell myself things are ok for the next two weeks, and if I get just three days a week relief work I can pretty much break even.

I haven’t said anything of this to Tau and Leroi, I don’t want them to worry about money on top of all their other worries. At least, that’s part of it – but just as much, I want to believe that I can do this, that I got the timing right – that I made my ship strong enough. Still, my mind flutters and panics. Sometimes I feel that panic migrating all the way down to sit dankly in my chest for a while, and then I doubt myself; I doubt myself so much.

 

Tuesday 19 August:

I get up at 6 o’clock, get ready for work and eat breakfast. Wait for the phone call or text that never eventuates. Time ticks by, and I take the lunch out of my bag and put it back on the counter.

Tau and Leroi wave goodbye as they leave for their course. Good for them – and here I sit. Half of me wishes I was back at MC, Tuesday wasn’t a bad day there: 12 History, 10 Social.

But I also remember how much I resisted it, with every cell in my body. Having to stand there and talk smack about smack. Not wanting that authority, resenting it so bad. And wondering where a different authority might come from. Remembering when I felt strong and brave with my campaninos – with Slade, last man out. A time a place.

 

I just sit there for a while, thinking about other times and places, and wondering what any of it really means. Memories get all jumbled up in my mind: us as kids, and my mum and dad. They tried so hard, I think to myself. They really tried. And does any of it last? I don’t know the answer to that one. Then I think of myself, and how I’ve tried to make something out of a time and place. But time can’t be clutched at; can’t be made to stay in one place forever. It just can’t do that. That isn’t the way it works. Even though people try and try.

I know there’s a trick to all of this. I call it a ‘trick’ but it’s more like a pattern to rearrange; an orbit to jump. Because times and places shift, and you have to jump, so as not to get left behind when it happens. That’s what I know, and maybe it’s going to be alright after all. All of it, I mean. Maybe somewhere, my mum’s alright now. Maybe it didn’t ‘end’ badly; maybe it didn’t end at all. And maybe Scott’s going to be alright too, huh. One day.

But right now, I have this time and place, and I want to call the moon down to lie in my arms.

 

Wednesday 20 August:

My pay came in last night. It’s only a few hundred dollars, instead of the familiar fortnightly salary. Those two days at Carthill haven’t even been processed yet. And what am I going to do?

In a way, I could care less what school it is right now; I just want to be earning. But this morning I hit rush hour traffic all the way to the city, do my stint at some private language college, then come straight back out to Municipal (again with cars queued up along the motorway). It’s getting dark, and it’s cold, and I’m planning to chuck dinner on straight away. But I hear footsteps outside, and then Sheree’s voice – and my heart sinks.

I drift around a while, wondering what to do. I’m hungry, and the boys will be too, but I don’t want to make dinner now, not when Sheree’s here. I think of Kepaoa – and just the way I always felt so dang normal when he was around. I wish he was here right now, so that those stray sounds contained some comforting inner pattern of homeliness and affection, instead of just being voices from someone else’s camp.

 

At 9 o’clock I go knock on the sleepout door, and find Sheree still lying there on the couch like the whole place is under the rule of Tau. I can’t help but be irked by the fact that she doesn’t even acknowledge me unless I go out there myself. But I don’t say anything; I tell myself this is because I don’t want to make the boys feel bad.

After a few moments of polite conversation, Tau and Leroi (wisely) ask if I could give Sheree a lift back to their uncle’s. Indeed I could, and do. But I also sense that I’ve cringed away from clearing my boundaries.

It’s 10 when I get back – and so I never make dinner, just fix a sandwich for myself and pack up another ‘for work tomorrow’ – I think, crossing my fingers.

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Distance

Tuesday 22 July, 2014:

Funny, but it’s not so bad being back at work this week. For some reason I’m quite uninclined to create unnecessary dramas; in fact I’m on a kind of ‘days gone by’ buzz which is not unpleasant. Anyway, I’m grateful to whatever impetus is allowing me to distance myself from things a little more.

A lot of times today, I miss Kepaoa and feel alright at the same time. Just as I said, I’m uninclined to cause dramas, even in my own mind.

 

Thursday 24 July:

9 Social – I get all the bro hugs – and some girl hugs too.

Obey begins multi-tasking with peaceful joy: completing his ten ‘confidence questions’, and drawing with one of the graff books propped up in front of him.

But it makes me want to cry, a little bit, to see him so content. “Why are you leaving?” he keeps asking me quietly. “I don’t want you to go.”

At the end of class, he just comes up and says, “Miss? Can I get a hug?”

“Course you can,” I tell him, and we put our arms around one another. It isn’t really a bro hug this time, it’s kind of a goodbye.

 

I remember one of the other teachers saying to me one time, “I get on ok with Obey. But it’s his foul mouth that gets me so riled.”

“Obey?” I said, wonderingly. “Are you sure you mean Obey?”

“Oh yes,” she replied. “He can’t even go for a whole sentence without swearing. I’ve already made a pastoral note about it.”

And I’ve never heard Obey swear. Not even once.

 

Friday 25 July:

Tau and Leroi are truly pleased about the fact that I’ve booked them to look around another course on Tuesday morning – this one’s called ‘Aspire Institute’.

“I’m keen to go,” says Tau. “We need something positive.”

“Actually, this one sounds alright,” I tell them. “The lady on the phone said to tell you not to be nervous if you haven’t been studying for a while, there are heaps of other people there in the same boat.”

“Saaalid,”

“It does sound alright,” reflects Leroi.

“Well, I hope so,” I say. “But no pressure, we’re just there to take a look.

 

Wednesday 23 July:

Very weird how this week’s panning out at school. I can see the distinction between aspects of the job which I like and am good at, and other things I simply can’t accept or do. For the first time ever really, this contrast is standing out as if illuminated by some exact, momentary ray of sunlight.

But writing frustrates me. So, so much to say, and right now that just seems way beyond my capabilities. Just writing these few lines is like composing some orchestral score: letters advance and retreat; are typed and deleted, placed back and forward in versions on a theme. Thirty minutes on – and I’ve barely said a thing.

It’s not exactly that I ‘don’t want to’ write, I just think, well, I can’t – obviously. I can’t tell it, I don’t know how. I started it off and I don’t know how to keep going without telling secrets; messing with things that I don’t have the skill to reveal.

I’ve said it probably a hundred times already: That thing. That two-part, indefinable thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it. But I’m wrapped into it like a hand in a glove. And yet sometimes I just want to give up.

Deep holes

Friday 18 April, 2014:

First day of the holidays – I can hear Tau coughing outside, but he doesn’t sound too bad compared to yesterday. He and Leroi are just standing around laughing while he coughs, which is a good sign. Yesterday he couldn’t even raise a smile. He was real stoical about it, but I know it must have been pretty bad for them to call me at school.

Tau comes in to get another drink (he’s not actually too shy about filling up a cup of juice), and there I am, eating a yoghurt. Once again I feel guilty for eating. But there’s yoghurts in the fridge, there’s bacon and eggs, and sausages; muesli bars and chips and noodles in the pantry… and I wish they’d just come in and make some lunch, I wouldn’t care if they took it straight out to the sleepout again.

I’m just trying to let it go, that the boys are shy to do that. I can’t force them, and I don’t want to try. But at the same time, it bothers me, just because… I wish I knew how to do this stuff better.

Oh well, I’m not going to just go out so they can cook. At one time I used to do exactly that, with Tau. Not all the time – sometimes though, that’s what I’d do. Go out, hoping he’d come in and eat. But I can’t spend my days second-guessing the way people might be; the things they might want or be able to do.

And if I fixed lunch for everyone, I’d only be trying to ‘cater’ to them. And I’d know it, and they’d sense it – and it would feel like an imposition on both counts.

 

In the evening though, I make butter chicken and rice – and I take two plates out to the sleepout. This is accepted without the least resistance, and Tau in particular looks kind of relieved to be eating something sustaining. I see empty chip packets out there, which no doubt have contained their entire day’s nutrition, apart from the juice.

At least dinner they can handle, for some reason. Maybe because I’m just pragmatic about it, and it’s more of a daily routine (when I’m usually at work during the day and home for dinner).

I know they’re trying with all this, as much as I am. They’re here, and they’re reasonably safe, and they’re reasonably settled (so far), and Tau’s been to the doctors three times lately (totally amazing his family, I might add). And yeah, I still wish they’d eat, but sometimes they didn’t even eat at their place, Tau’s told me that often enough. So it is what it is. And I love them, for all their ways – not just the ways that I’d find easier – but all their ways.

Sometimes I say to myself: maybe one day things will be righted, huh? Everything good and right, for each of us, just like it’s meant to be.

 

Sunday 20 April:

I feel so bummed out by the fact that Sheree’s in the sleepout with Tau and Leroi. After an hour she still hasn’t so much as said hello, so I go out there – and it’s awkward. Once again, it feels like a demarcation, and also a kind of imprisonment for me. It’s a cold day, and there’s nowhere I need to be. And it’s not my fault that Sheree got evicted from Rutherford Ave, I tell myself. If they want to be together, well maybe she should have thought of that ages ago, when she maybe did get a 90 day eviction notice in the mail (that’s what Vailea thinks – that Sheree never read the mail, and there was a stack of letters and bills, and all the rest of it).

I want to burst into tears and then shout at her, “God, are you dumb or what? Go away, isn’t it enough that I’ve got the boys here Sheree? Don’t you think I care, don’t you think I got feelings? And yes, I’m on my own. And so what? Do you think I never had anything? Do you think I never had anyone? Do you think I’m not worth anything? Just fuck off and leave me alone, and go get yourself a damn house, and stop perching here like I don’t exist, and like all I am is a goddam place to be together when you need one.”

I bet Vailea Poe and Maxwell Rosdolsky never get themselves into this predicament. I bet they have a whole heap of people who love them for real, and they never get their priorities all mixed up; never get their boundaries blurred. Meanwhile I sit here like a creeping, shame-filled guest in my own home, while the three of them play at being happy families in the sleepout (which is a freakin mess, today, it honestly is – but that’s another story)

I’m very unhappy, and I don’t know what to do. So just for today, I’m going to act like I’m alright. So that Tau’s alright – I’ll do it, it’s enough of a reason. But there’s a big ache in my heart that won’t go away. It just says: You’re nothing, you got no-one.

It helps a little, tiny, teeny bit to write that down. I write to get myself out of so many deep holes, you know.

 

It starts to get dark; I go out again and Sheree’s asleep on the bed out there. And the only reason I’m putting up with it, is so I don’t hurt Tau, or make him feel shamed and worried about being here.

It would be different, maybe, if I wasn’t so hyper-aware of the bare facts. The fact that we aren’t actually ‘friends’, and I know it, of course I do. Sheree wouldn’t be here if she had a house. And yet, “Love you…” she says, and oh, maybe it’s true in one sense – but it hurts to think of that too, because it’s not ‘me’ that’s loved. It’s the fact that she’s grateful I’m such a freakin push over and have no boundaries in place for this kind of shit, and have obviously no life that anyone else gives a fuck about. That’s the only thing she ‘loves’ about me – that I’m a weak bitch who won’t act like I’m worthy of anything except being walked on.

The thing is, I don’t know how to get boundaries, with a family who pretty much don’t have boundaries.

 

I wrap myself in a rug, and sit out on the steps for a little while, thinking what to do… what to do.

It’s raining, and I realize that it isn’t a good idea for Sheree to walk home in the rain. So I think – okay, I know what to do. I’ll go ask if she wants a ride.

I kind of rehearse what to say. Then I go out to the sleepout and knock on the door, push it open… and there are Tau and Leroi, both sound asleep. Leroi’s on the bed, Tau’s on the couch. Sheree is nowhere to be seen.

I kneel down beside Tau, and just quietly say his name a couple times – and he opens his eyes.

“Where’s your mum?” I ask.

“She’s gone,” he says, his eyes flickering and drowsing.

“Oh, okay…” I murmur. “I didn’t want her to walk in the rain… I came to see if she wanted a lift.”

“Thanks, Miss… my uncle picked her up already,”

“Ohh…” I say.

His eyes slide shut again. I can see he’s stoned and tired, but quite calm. I’m doing okay, I think to myself. Not acting stressed, and not stressing him out.

Oh thank God she’s gone, is my next thought. And then I my body kind of slumps, as I finally allow myself to feel the energy drain of the past few hours.

Holding up

Friday 21 February, 2014:

The alarm wakes me at 6 o’clock, and I put it on snooze a few times before getting up half an hour late. I jump in the shower – I feel quite energetic, despite my broken sleep. Eat some weetbix, make a cuppa tea, and I’m at work before eight.

All I have to do is hook the laptop up to the data projector and I’m ready to go. I actually welcome having something to do and to think about, plus I have a ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibe today that makes all the kids very orderly.

But at the same time it all just keeps pushing at my mind.

 

Saturday 22 February:

I find some random line today which really appeals to me:

The thing most forget while dreamily looking off into the horizon for the ship of their dreams to come into port is that such ships never sail in but are actually built beneath your very feet. (Mike Dooley)

And just so you know, that last part kicks it in even more. I really like ship metaphors. I don’t know why – I always have done. So I have one of those ‘aha’ moments, where words align with images, and resonate quietly in my mind.

Maybe, just maybe… this is the way to proceed. Maybe I’m wrong, thinking all I’m doing is sweeping the floors and securing the doors of the ROR. And you know, I’m not straight wrong, because there’s an element of that too. But what I’m saying is, it could be exactly the right thing to do now. For whatever reason – and I don’t know what it is yet – maybe it’s time to build my ship, from right inside this very citadel.

 

Sunday 23 February:

I go to school, and start sorting out stuff in my room. Take it real slow, just a couple of things at a time. Documents and papers, to begin with – getting rid of everything that’s out of date, and streamlining all the current stuff in a more accessible way.

I’m not a hoarder by nature – well of course I’m not. Even when I’m travelling, I keep culling my suitcase. So I find this kind of activity quite relaxing.

As I leave to go home, I walk past the other classrooms: piles of paper all over the desks, and things falling out of cupboards, and clutter on the floor, and I think – well if that’s the way you like it.

 

Monday 24 February:

I try to keep my mental state buoyant today. I’m nice to the babyish year 9’s and don’t take personal offence at the lazy and immature year 13’s. I go to the departmental meeting (a whole hour after school) and actually try to be helpful to Shakira. Then I return to my room and begin my preparation for tomorrow’s classes. By 5:45 I’m at the gym, and I’m home by 7, heating up a nice big bowl of spaghetti.

I really am trying. In a way, it’s as much for Tau as for any other reason. I always remember, I never forget, how Tau’s brave. And so I guess I can be brave too. And please God don’t forget about my Tau.

 

Tuesday 25 February:

Maybe the Room of Requirement’s meant for me, at the moment. As a place where I can be quiet, and busy, and free of unnecessary paraphernalia. It’s calm and soothing – even without my bro Slade. I feel kind of… economical here. Efficient, but not hurried.

And the thing I’m discovering about work this week, is that it actually does help me to put my heart into not the stupid things, but the important things. Therefore, to realize the stupidity of the educational curriculum doesn’t rule out giving my attention to the kids who have to go through it every bit as much as I do. So every time I feel bored as a motherfucker, I just try to go work with the tables. Not for the doing of the task itself (i.e. not for the ‘learning’) but really, for the sense of not being alone in this clangy old jail. And if there’s a better way to describe school, I don’t know what it is. Especially now the troops have left.

 

But there’s got to be a reason for me to be here right now. So I like the idea of building that ship right under my feet, and right under the noses of whoever thinks they know what’s good. Because they don’t know. If there’s a way in, there’s a way out. And just like always – if there’s a way, I can find it.

Patience, and activity, and working through my fears: fears of being abandoned, being forgotten, or just not being important to another soul. Those beliefs have got to go. And while I work them out, patiently, I’m going to build that ship from whatever I find, or can take, or stockpile, or create out of bric-a-brac. And when it’s ready, I’m going to go hook up with the troops.

Until then, I won’t refuse the important things. Finding solidarity with others. Treating people like brothers and sisters.

 

Later, the blog post is posted; this time it gives me a little flip of trepidation to hit ‘Publish’. I’m getting further into this whole story, and I don’t know quite how I’m going to write about the next thing, and the next thing… but I’m not stopping.

 

Wednesday 26 February:

10 Social, I’m going around the tables and this new little girl from down the line, her name’s Miria – has been tagging on her book cover in black vivid. Big, bold tagging; it reminds me of all the old days with the year 10’s, way back when. So I just note it and say nothing, just sit with her table and help them with their ‘Roman Menu’.

“What’s an entrée?” Lauralee asks, and we talk about it, Meanwhile Miria keeps on admiring her own handiwork, waiting for me to tell her off.

And I just say, “How are you getting on, Miria? How’s your menu going?”

“Look, tagging, Miss,” says Eden, with a smirk.

“Oh yup,” I say. “But I bet you’ve been doing your menu too, aye Miria.”

She glances at me as if to say: What the fuuuck?

And Lauralee says, “Miss likes tagging, aye Miss.”

“Yes, I do,” is all I say, and I just say it in a matter-of-fact way, so Miria can see I’m not trying to labour some point about the difference between graffiti art and tagging’ (as if I ever would – but she doesn’t know me, and so I keep things simple).

 

Miria says nothing, but about five minutes later she calls me over softly, and says, “Miss? Can you help me with my menu?”

“Oh my gosh!” I scold Lauralee, who’s meant to be the helper for that table, because she’s finished. “Didn’t Lauralee help you like she’s supposed to, girls?”

“No!” they say (Miria and Eden). “She ain’t helping!”

“Come over here and help, Madam!” I tell Lauralee, who gets the giggles with me. And then she goes to help Mia, and I sit down with Miria, and we all just get along with the frickin Roman menu: fruit and cheese and small fish and water and wine.

“Small fish…” says Miria. “Sounds yuck.”

“Must be like sardines, I guess,” I say, thinking about it.

“Ew, yuck – I hate sardines,” Miria shudders. “I like that other stuff better. Tuna.”

“Me too,” I say. “Tuna’s nice – sardines are alright though.”

Then we all discuss the sushi at the café, and how it’s got tuna in it, though Eden says it’s yuck too, and so on and so forth… and I feel so much better and less bored, and I really do like Miria, whose tagging never bothered me, not one whit, I can tell you. And I hope she could sense that.

 

After work, I coax myself to the gym, and spend fifteen minutes asleep in the car before going in (à la Kepaoa). Yawn my way up the stairs to pump class, set my weights out nicely, and then kind of crash on the floor until the last ten seconds before the class starts. At which point I have a big swig of water and pick up the bar.

I’m fine straight away, once things kick in. On a good day I feel tough, at the gym. It can restore a lot of my energy – and today was like that.

As for Tau, I just hope he’s holding up, that’s as much as I can wish for.

The real boundaries

Friday 27 December, 2013:

I’ve been working most of the afternoon. Editing, and re-writing, and condensing, and all that stuff. Trying to do something in a way that honors others, not sells them out. But everything foxes me anyway. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever have the skills, let alone the discipline, let alone the presence of mind and heart.

It’s not just that. The intensity of my feelings about the events I’m recounting still stings me. I think I always knew I was… what? Expedient? A port in a storm? Sometimes even a ‘curiosity’, of a kind. And yet I was also part of it.

 

Sunday 29 December:

The rain wakes me up at 2 am. I just lay there and listen to the sound, and try to sleep, but my brain keeps churning on and on.

I think what’s bothering me the most is that I’m getting up to that day: 1 July 2009. Of course I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a turning point in my life. It was one of those moments when I jumped – just out of instinct, and timing, and some kind of intimation of ‘destiny’, I think – and swung myself into a whole new orbit. I had no idea what was set in motion – sometimes I think I still don’t know the half of it yet. So in one sense, it was like this big propulsion. In another sense, it was one ordinary step, which seemed to be much like any other step I had taken in recent times… but afterwards, everything changed.

And I have to write about this? I mean, it gets so much more personal from this point on. Yet for some reason I feel it’s just pouring out of me, and I can hardly stop it. So I’ve got to learn how to control it.

 

Lying there in the dark, listening to some random playlist (everything from Elvis Costello to Travis Porter) I feel more settled, knowing the bottom line’s still there. There are certain things that I carry but can’t share. That’s the way I am. I’ve said it before, in what was probably a moment of surprising insight. I’m a carrier alright – a ‘keeper,’ in some very specific sense of the term. I know it, as much as I’ve ever known anything about myself. And it took me long enough to work it out. My job, which also feels like a compulsion, is to go out with the troops – and sometimes these things are not for the telling.

But there are things I have to tell, all the same. There’s a kind of reporting back which I’m driven to do, with exactly the same feeling of compulsion. It’s like I can’t do one thing without the other. I don’t know why.

And that’s me. And I don’t know how to do those things both at the same time. Believe me, I’m trying. I try and try and try. If something doesn’t work, I just stop for a bit, and try to figure out another way to do it. Because I have to try. I can’t not try.

 

30 December, 2013:

Something about tonight reminds me of the night before I moved to Municipal. Wondering what I was doing, knowing it was the right thing to do anyway.

Every now and then I get a wave of feeling sorry for myself, and I think about the ‘used to bes’, and whether I could have done anything better, or different, so that people would… stay, you know.

But at the same time, this doesn’t feel like a ‘used to be’ place, a place where memories outweigh everything else. It’s not like that at all. I think my own powers – such as they are – are still being formed. It’s one reason why I don’t decorate my house too much. I don’t like that vibe of having one’s stories stabilized or completed, by pinning them even to treasured things and surroundings. I’m not at my ease anywhere that the ‘thinginess’ of things feels pre-set and static.

 

I’m used to being the keeper now. I’m so patient, constantly maintaining the stamina to just bump along on the flank, guarding and sheltering the troops. I don’t know if it seems strange – I don’t care. I need to have the confidence and the self-control to keep on going. Because maybe things are only just getting started up. That’s what I reckon.

It’s something then, I think. It’s more than nothing. And so – I’m alright with my place in things. I’ve learned that I can’t always be special. But I’ve learned what it is I can do.

I also think of the boundary lines I’ve crossed and re-crossed over the last five years, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes blithely, sometimes with the most careful weighing up of the situation – and sometimes with complete incaution: a reckless bravado that kicks in when I can’t rationalize my decisions any other way.

But I have to just say this one thing: I’m a person who knows the real boundaries, the ones you can’t cross. Border crossing on its own is nothing to me, it’s been my everyday experience for a long time now. But nonetheless – there are some places you can never go.

I know that. And I will write more later.

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.

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.