In the center of Moscow, not far from the Lubyanka, is the office of the company I was going to work for. I’d have to fly to Siberia in two months. In Moscow, I studied the technical documentation and put together the standards by which the project would be constructed, I had no duties.

The office was full of foreigners, and everything was organized so that each person would feel like they were part of a single team, engaged in a single activity—for me this was quite new. We drank coffee, chatted, went outside for a cigarette, went out to a restaurant for lunch.

I got to know Mamolyga, who was the quality manager. We nearly became friends, we’d talk shop and discuss personal matters.

One time, Kristina met me for lunch. I wanted to invite her to the restaurant, but this Italian guy had come out and invited us to a pizzeria. Although I really wanted to, I couldn’t turn him down. I didn’t turn him down because there was this fear within me that as he was an Italian it meant he was a boss, and you can’t ruin that relationship at the start of your career. Actually this Italian was not a boss at all, he was an electrical engineer.

We went to the pizzeria, I chose a table in the smoking section but Kristina said there was a draft against her back and we needed to move. There were no other tables in the smoking section, and there was just one non-smoking table. I refused to move, told Kristina that she was unhappy with everything as always. Kristina flew into hysterics, crying, at the whole pizzeria, then stood up and walked out. I felt very uncomfortable in front of the Italian, I wanted to get Kristina back and had to go to the office, the lunch break was over.

Well why in the hell did you come here, who asked you to? Kristina’s hysterics went on a long time, several days. Through her hysterics it came out that in order to kiss some Italian’s ass I had seriously offended the woman I loved. Any normal man would have moved to a different table without saying a word. I couldn’t understand it: either she was right, and I was a piece of shit; or I was right, and she was hysterical. So I never understood it, but I decided not to mix my work life with my personal life again. I didn’t want to talk to Kristina after this episode. The first paycheck arrived in my account, 75,000 rubles, and I couldn’t believe it could happen, the amount seemed enormous after six months of working in Moscow. Before flying to Siberia, I went to see Father Polycarp and spent half an hour praying for the sick. I was shaking again as from a fever and thought that this was because the demons were flying out from me.