Yesterday turned out to be busy. In the morning, VP Ma’am called me up. (She is not VP anymore, but if I change the name, you really will not be able to keep them all straight). She had some paperwork to take care of at the Government Building and wanted company. I washed up quickly, got dressed, and waited. After a while, she called me again. She was at the bank, which is near my house. I went to meet her and we walked up together.
VP Ma’am is my friend. I don’t tell her the frightening details of my struggles, but I do talk to her. She is one of two or three friends here that I really tell the truth to, at least the truth in an emotional sense. If it is driving me crazy that the National Language teacher is sitting outside the classroom chatting with his girlfriends while my students throw paper airplanes and generally avoiding learning, I eventually vent to her. She has also been C’s neighbour for the last six or eight years.
So I told her what had gone down with C. the abbreviated version. Not the exchange of texts with some friend or neighbour or cousin of C’s. That does not reflect very well on C. VP Ma’am mostly said let her go. C doesn’t appreciate what you’re doing for her; she isn’t worth the bother. That is really what any Country Xer would say. They are skilled in sour grapes. But it hurts me. In real time, I cannot process that, but later I realize it. C is the most precious human being in the world to me, and my friend is saying she has no worth. It’s dreadful. At the same time, it is also not true. C does appreciate me. I know that she does, but she has all of these other pressures on her. She is also scared. Things end up getting jumbled up in our relationship.
The last time I saw C, we were arguing, as you remember. I was not behaving like a sensible adult. You remember this.
C made tea. The neighbours who helped them move were all sitting in the empty livingroom drinking beer and I guess there were one or two people not drinking. She made tea for them and for me. So she poured tea for me and gave it to me, but I was angry at her. I didn’t want her tea. I was sitting then in the window sill in the kitchen with her. C put the tea in the window sill next to me. This is not Country X politeness. If I say I don’t want tea, C will ask why and I will say I am not in the mood or I just drank tea at my house or my stomach is hurting or whatever. Then she doesn’t give me any. This was a different gesture.
Later, I went to sit in the livingroom—everyone had gone then. Only her mom was left and I sat with her, not speaking. C brought the tea and set it next to me. When I went back into the kitchen again, I left the tea sitting there.
After C and I had really fought and things had cooled down again, C was cleaning up. She brought the tea from the livingroom, or maybe I saw it and remembered. Anyway, then she wouldn’t let me have it. “It’s cold.” She poured the cold tea down the “sink” (actually a concrete square on the floor) and heated the tea left still in the pan for me.
In other words, she does care.
VP Ma’am also said she would talk to C or to C’s mom or both. We finished up VP Ma’am’s business in the Government Building, walked down the hill again, bought her bus tickets, and then I went to her house for lunch. Around 3, she was going for a haircut, so we walked together in the direction of my house and then parted ways.
I lay in bed when I got home, having slept badly and exhausted from the day with VP Ma’am and really not getting time to process the previous day. I tried to sleep and couldn’t. I cried some. I managed to have some thoughts about things. Around 6:30, I finally got it together again. Math’s Ma’am was having an annual blessing for their house. I was supposed to go around six. I started calling around to see who else might be going. No one was going. I finally landed on a teacher who was, got cleaned up again, and went.
I was just outside Maths Ma’am’s house when VP Ma’am called. She said, “It’s good news. They are searching for a vehicle now. C is coming. She relayed some of the rest of her conversation with C’s mom—VP Ma’am did not speak to C. I don’t really know why C said she did not want to come back to Y-town. Maybe it really was the bus tickets. A taxi all the way from where her family lives now to Y-town is very expensive. Maybe she did not feel she could ask for her parents to arrange for that, and then she found all the reasons in her mind why this was the best plan anyway. Maybe she got to their new house and found it too hard to leave her family. Maybe a lot of things. I have no idea. None whatsoever.
But her mother is making her come. I think, perhaps, although I would like it to be C’s choice where she studies and how involved I am in her life, she might not be mature enough to know what is best for herself. She might need the adults to decide and tell her what to do.
VP Ma’am said also, “Don’t poke C.”
No, I won’t. I am not going to say anything to her until she gets here. The temptation is to verify with her that this decision is okay with C and this is what she truly wants. But, as I said, I don’t know if she is mature enough to decide for herself what she wants. At this point, all I can do is fuck things up.
It’s better to wait quietly.
Plus, I didn’t sleep well two nights in a row (too sad to sleep, too happy to sleep), the saw next door is up and running again, I had no processing time yesterday, and my head feels disconnected from my body. I am not “warm.” Not at all. Not even a little bit.
Monday, VP Ma’am will go to our local high school and talk to the high school principal and arrange whatever needs to be arranged. Tuesday and Wednesday are a local holiday here. Thursday I go back to work. The following Monday, C is supposed to start school.
Things are fine. Or they are not fine. I won’t poke C. I will clean my house, do something about the empty gas cylinder, catch up on the laundry, and try to stay sane. I can only fuck things up.
The only thing I intend to do—the only action—is to ask VP Ma’am to get C’s parents bank account details. All of this stuff—the taxi, food and lodging for 2 or 3 days getting here, personal things for school—will be expensive. I’ll transfer money to cover it into their bank account.
That’s it. That is the only action I am going to take.
If I forget, you can remind me. For nine days, I am to do nothing except get myself ready to return to work. If C really does not want to come, she will tell her parents, and she will not come. I don’t need to ask her. Otherwise, she will do as she is told. She will obey her mom. Not me. She doesn’t obey me particularly. But her own mom. She will obey her. And being here is really best for C. I know it, VP Ma’am knows it, her mom knows it, and probably C knows it. C might just need her mom to insist.
Meanwhile, the saw next door has started up. I have all these feelings to sort out. I started the laundry before VP Ma’am called me up yesterday and never had time to finish it. My coat is filthy and needs a good scrub. There is stuff to do. Mainly, I need to calm down.