Something clicked into place last night, and I felt better. I was suddenly full of energy. It occurred to me that Ruthie, who cries for her elephant, who says she wants her cross, wants these things, but she also just wants anything. She wants a possession. She wants a sense of ownership. She wants something to be hers.
So I go out in search of a teddy bear. In February, Arts Sir and I went around to shops to beg for prizes for an art contest he was holding. And as we went around, I kept an eye out for things I might want—I don’t go in to most of the shops. I hate shopping, and there are parts of me who still like to go only to the same places and who can be coaxed out on errands only if they have the assurance they will see a friendly face they recognize.
Anyway, because of that day, I know where to find a teddy bear. It is tiny and comes with a set of mugs—I thought of getting the teddy bear for my classroom. I’ve always used a stuffed animal when calling on students and it’s fun. It’s perfect though, because I can buy a teddy bear and pretend I want a mug—which I need also.
This being Country X, the teddy bear has in the stitching. I can’t tell this buying it because it is wrapped up in plastic, but it is. So the head almost immediately begins to separate from the body. But Ruthie is still thrilled. She’s a very unruffled baby in many ways. She says, “It not matter mommy. You fix it morning.” Which I do.
I don’t sleep well though. I haven’t slept well all week, and I finally start to realize I can never sleep at this time of the year. It generally starts with the time change, and I just kind of stumble through the rest of the year until school lets out in June. I always used to blame it on the time change—it seems to coincide with that—but it happened last year, and we only have one time here.
It’s starting to make more sense now, as I can identify what the triggers are—there are so many important dates just now. There is Veroushka’s birth and Valentine’s Day—in February, although the insomnia doesn’t seem to start then—and then the first kiss in March and Easter whenever it falls and Nata’s proposal and her birthday in April, Mother’s Day in May and Veroushka’s loss and my birthday in June.
The night before, I slept finally at 8:30—I’ve not been able to get sleepy in the evenings, so that was progress—and then woke up at 2:30 in the morning. Just kind of, you know, awake. For no real reason. But last night Ruthie kept waking up crying. It happened twice, but she wasn’t clear why she started crying.
The first time seems to have to do with pornography. I have a vivid sensation of Nata touching me and of not wanting to be touched and of an immense sadness before Ruthie switches in. And I realize that pornography was like being doubly raped, because it is so terrible to be forced into sex and I am also watching someone I love forced to have sex with me. It seems to me that this felt worse over time, that it became even more horrifying after Natalya became my lover, because then I felt responsible for protecting her from that. I wasn’t just seeing her victimized. I had to keep myself from doing what felt like my job.
But Ruthie gets this, and I’m not really sure why, but I think it is just how integration works. Stuff gets spread around instead of being confined to the part that started out responsible for it. All of the parts have to come to terms with the same tragedies: It is not just me that needs to.
The second time she wakes up, she is holding Nata. She says Nata won’t wake up. Well, Nata is dead. She is remembering Natalya’s death. That’s not her memory either, but she is just getting everything now.
The separation anxiety is okay now, and it seems to mean the wall is lower and she’s getting absolutely everything else.
When the alarm goes off, it’s awful again, but it’s a different kind of awful than it used to be. It’s awful because I want Veroushka—it’s not about missing Nata. It’s instead about missing her baby.
Ruthie gets that too. “I want Nata baby,” she says. And she cries a lot. There is just an ache in my chest and in my arms. I don’t remember a lot about Veroushka, but I remember the feeling of her in my arms. I remember that baby softness, and I remember her eyes, because they started to turn brown before they came to take her away. Natalya’s eyes are brilliantly blue, but her daughter’s are brown. I suppose we were both surprised by that.
And I think some of this has to do with the teddy bear. Coincidentally, it looks a bit like the teddy bear I gave Nata for Valentine’s Day: I thought I had given it to her the next year, after we became lovers, but it wasn’t. It was the year when Veroushka was born. I know this because the association between the teddy bear and Veroushka is very strong in my mind. They are linked in some way. So I think the teddy bear has set some of this off.
In the morning, I do sew it’s head back on, and I sit it on the small table I have beside my bed while I go into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. When I come back, it’s sitting there, and I see it, and there is a sense of relaxation inside, as if I can finally come home.
But it also intensifies the pain. I want Veroushka. I want Natalya. I want my family again. It hurts more than I can bear not to have them.