Love Across Enemy Lines

By Elena Ivanova

April 20, 2021

Mine is a story of liberation. Not the kind you'll see written down in history. It's because this liberation is personal, it serves me. Not an ideology, an agenda, marketing, optics, or anyone else. It's not actually a bad thing, despite what I have been told. It is terrific! I encourage you to do the same!

I ran from my home and crossed the planet under my own power and unsupported, to live as I want and be with the woman I love. The story would have a proverbial happy ending if it wasn't for one detail. Meg and I are citizens of two enemy countries. For fourteen years we have had to fight for every moment we have together; running between third countries that let us both in. So far, there has been no country willing to grant us the same citizenship and recognize us as a family with safety and equality.

When we arrived to Meg's home in British Columbia, I assumed our journey was over. Little did I know, it was only beginning! Crossing two seas and two oceans, Meg and I became free. We weren't aware of it at the time, but every step we have taken since then, has been about holding onto that freedom. Following our dreams. And staying true to ourselves!

Elena and Meg, BC

What we've gone through, just to live our lives and be together, is unimaginable. For years, we lived with uncertainty and in isolation. We survived hurricanes, pirates, catastrophic mechanical failures, lightning, crime, trauma and disease entirely on our own, and often, thousands of kilometers from any other human being, or assistance. The big reveal in all this, is that by fighting for our lives and love over all these years, we found freedom!

On the way to Meg's home, Elena's watch, crossing Caribbean On the way to Meg's home, surviving winter storms in North Pacific On the way to Meg's home, Elena on deck On the way to Meg's home, Meg adjusts sails, North Pacific

Before my escape from Russia, I could never have imagined myself living the way I do now. I was convinced, nobody would willingly choose this life, and all I gave up to get it. One needs a country, a town, a fixed address to call home! It means living in constant fear of losing what can be taken, and submitting to the system and those around you.

Over the years I've learned, it doesn't have to be that way. Our life in exile isn't easy. At times, it seems unbearable, but Meg and I choose the freedom to be who we are and to determine our own lives over someone else's mandate. To us, life isn't worth living otherwise!

Until this very day

the only way Meg and I can stay together is by being tourists in the precious few countries that allow entry to both Canadians and Russians. We live between countries, knowing we always have to move on. As long as we're together, we have no right to belong anywhere. I no longer consider this way of life extraordinary. Our partners are not welcome in our home countries; this is a fact of life.

If there is one thing I learned during our life together, it is that Meg and I will never stop being who we are, or doing what is right for us. We discovered, we need very little, aside from each other, and the freedom to determine our own path. Everything else is simply a technicality to overcome. Nobody can take away our love for each other. Nobody can make us people we are not. That, is freedom! That, is a lot. To me, it is everything!

If I could send a message to the people of the world, it would be that freedom is possible. Meg and I are proof of that. We love each other, and we relish every moment we have. Any day can be our last, but we're free, and we are in each other's arms.