Yesterday was a good day. I also came home and cried for about three hours—way past my bedtime—because I never got time in the day to let the tears out.

We had a public program for the king’s birthday, which almost no one but school children (who had to) attended. And then afterwards, I met with Maths Sir and a few other people to discuss an art competition he wants to have today.

In the morning, I went up early to the public grounds to help arrange books for a display and then stayed all through lunch—lunch was provided—and finally came home for an hour or two only around two pm. After that I was engaged until seven. It was all very nice. I sat with my friends and we talked and ate snacks and joked and it was lovely. Later, I was with Maths Sir and VP Ma’am and a man I hadn’t met before and that was nice too.

I really enjoy Maths Sir. He is a genuinely good person, and he cares about things, and he’s fun to work with—we are alike in many ways. He’s a progressive educator in the midst of people who can’t quite shake their belief in the importance of being a good parrot. So I like spending time with him. I like, generally, having male friends: It feels to me like, “Oh, look, not Yuri.” And men are wonderful because you can know they care without really discussing it. You can work together and see that they care in how they treat you along the way—that they consider your ideas, that they do practical things as they need to be done—and there aren’t all these words to contend with. It’s a relief sometimes, because my life is generally entirely taken up with women because I live in a segregated, sexist society, because I’m gay, because I work in a profession that attracts fewer men for the most part.

Anyway, the point is it was nice. All nice.

But I can’t work that way. It’s too many hours at a stretch of keeping things in.

Last night, sleep came only with difficulty. I went to sleep at ten and woke up around midnight to cry some more. Then I woke up at five. And cried for a few more hours. It’s eight now and I’m still wobbling in and out of tears.

There’s a reason for it—things keep moving around in my head and uncovering new pains. But that’s not the point of this post. That’s a topic for a different post.

Because, through all that, I started thinking that the things that feel “ours” to me—and by “ours” I mean mine and Natalya’s. I don’t need to try to adjust that too, and this thought gives me a sense of solid ground: finally, a mental structure in my head that can remain where it is, that reflects reality enough to be functional and helpful, and that is not going to be destructive to me in the end.

And also something that is not just one more loss for me to contend with.

I had wondered about it because it’s a complex topic to negotiate. I grew up so alone and yet also so embedded in a relationship. The assumption that everyone who isn’t a sociopath approaches life as a collaboration with others hasn’t served me well. People don’t. Some people approach it that way more than others—my experience in life certainly didn’t prepare me for ordinary toxicity. It prepared me mostly for serial killers and saints, but not regular life. So I have to figure this out. I have to figure what “normal” is so that I can do it along with other people, instead of continually going down roads with others that are going somewhere I don’t actually want to go.

But this other idea I have is different.

Certain things feel like “ours.” I probably don’t have a complete list, but I know for certain some things do. Butterflies are ours. Freedom is ours. Wonder at the beauty of the world is ours. I think a belief in God is ours. I think language might be ours—Russian might be ours, although I have mostly forgotten it. When I hear it, I still feel a sense of recognition that I think goes beyond recognizing Natalya and feels like recognizing myself.

I think things feel to me like “ours” that to someone else might just feel like “mine.” I think it feels this way to me because, before Natalya, I really had no one. “Ours” is not just the air I am breathing or the water I’m swimming in, the way it is for someone who feels connected in any way to a family. I didn’t internalize “ours” as “just me” in quite the same way that other people do, who adopt the attitudes and beliefs of their family or their culture and don’t notice that it none of those things are uniquely theirs but instead are shared with some of the people who are closest to them.

And I think it is fine for me to be different in this way. I think it is fine for me to think that things about myself are shared with the person who remains closest to me—even dead, she is closer to me than anyone—when others might see them as only their own. I think my view is mine in this case, and I can keep it.

That’s mine.

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