I quit after a month and a half, fly home, get some money and decide not to go out on any projects again. I’ll live with my mother and work in Moscow. I’m looking for work, I put in an application at some company, I’m online—I look for a woman, meet Kristina, give her my number.

I started looking around for a place to buy myself an apartment with my mother. The money from the sale of the two-room apartment in Novy Urengoy was exactly enough for a studio in the Moscow suburbs in a building that’s still under construction. There’s no house there, just the foundations, but there was also no alternative, so we paid.

Mother says let’s go to Uglich, take a look at some of the beautiful places where we might buy her a dacha. I buy a dinghy with a motor, go to Uglich with my mother and uncle; we look at some places, I ride around on my boat.

I started drinking out in the country with my uncle, didn’t get chance to dry out the dinghy, scrunched it up and threw it in the trunk of the car. One evening I’m out drinking with my uncle at a restaurant. Someone says something to me, I turn over the table and end up in a cell, they give me two days. I do my time, I get out, mother is angry, we go home.

I’m driving my mother and uncle back to Moscow and I get a call inviting me for an urgent interview. I go, I’m dirty, I’ve got a beard, I’m dressed for the countryside, I’ve spent two nights in jail, but I pass the interview.

I go home, Kristina calls: “Let’s meet up.”

“Okay, I’m just driving past Kuzminki, where are you?” Could this beautiful woman with the fashion magazine really be Kristina? Damn, what am I meant to do with her?

Kristina, listen, just don’t get scared okay, I need to go into the woods and dry out my dinghy, put it in a tree, and I want to make a pot of tea, I’m not feeling too good. Where’d you get the dinghy? Well, I was drunk in Uglich, I didn’t manage to get it dried out so now it’s back there in the trunk, then I was in jail for two nights, and then I had an interview. Why, you moron? Maybe I am a moron, I don’t know, you would know better. Will you have some tea? Ah, it’s got really strong, this is real chifir. You don’t want any? Well come sit down on the tree anyway, what are you standing for? Put the fashion magazine down. Alright, I’ll fold up the dinghy now and we’ll go.

Kristina, I can’t take you home because I’ve been driving since this morning and so much has happened. I don’t have money for a taxi, so you’ll need to get the bus home.

Kristina, look, there’s a cafe that sells beer, what do you say I park the car and we go for a drink? What do you think, one more beer and we’ll go to your place?

We began a great love affair. I worked at the company, I got sixteen thousand rubles, didn’t have enough money for anything, but we’d always buy two or three bottles of wine or whisky. Kristina had a young daughter, three and half years old, and I lived with them. Kristina’s ex-husband paid her alimony, which we also drank part of.

We sometimes went to vacation homes and Kristina always said I didn’t know how to behave in polite society. Kristina’s friend had a birthday, I was invited to an Italian bar in Kuzminki, I got completely shitfaced and fell asleep at the table. I had to take Kristina’s brother to the airport, I drove really slowly as I was scared of driving in Moscow, and Kristina was seething the whole way.

She got tired of it all and said I was a jerk and I came from the country. 

“Kristina, how can I not be a jerk, and not come from the country?” 

“I’ll teach you if you’re ready to learn.”

“Of course I am, I’m tired of all the cops stopping me in the street, too.”

“Only a country bumpkin would walk around in trousers like that, and only a lug would wear those shoes, your shirt is cheap, the mink cap is like something out of a seventies movie, chuck it out, don’t yell into your phone like that, Muscovites don’t talk about ‘phoning,’ you have to say ‘call,’ you have a moronic hairstyle, your jacket is from some cheap market.” 

For a couple of months the cops didn’t stop me at all, taking me for a real Muscovite.

I didn’t have enough money, I started thinking about going out on some project again and began looking for work. I wrote to companies, registered on job-hunting sites, but no one got back to me. I felt like I was banging my head against a wall. In five months of job hunting I didn’t get a single reply.