Elena and Meg, header

 

In Exile, On the Run and Together

Canada was the farthest thing from home

Elena Ivanova

I gave up everything and everybody I knew in Russia, to be with Meg. I wasn't concerned. I assumed that because Canada's utopia is trumpeted everywhere, Meg's family and country would surely welcome us and recognize what we did to be together. What we did for love.

Being Russian, I don't expect support or compassion from anyone. But I have never seen the kind of contempt toward one's own family member as I did with Meg's family. In Russia, a passer by is more interested in an alcoholic on the street, than Meg's family is about her. They are actually embarrassed by her. Terrified she and I might visit. And instead give Meg money to stay away from them to prevent any embarrassment she might cast on them. It's absurd to me, when one considers that one of their in-laws is a Canadian lesbian celebrity icon.

On our way to Canada, Meg was out at sea for ten months, surviving on a small sailboat entirely on her own. In Ukraine, she was attacked by my parents, hired crooks, the police and held in custody on false accusations. She came up with, and realized, an ocean crossing endeavor of such an enormous scale and complexity that only a few very wealthy attention seekers undertake, with nearly no risk to themselves. They have the eyes of the world on them, and all the money and support imaginable. Meg didn't. She was alone in it. Supported by nobody, apart from me. She had no sponsors. No media coverage. No helicopter ready for take off had something went wrong. All of it, she went through to be with me. To save me. To make sure I didn't perish and actually had a life.

Meg's family (yes, from that very Canada that is unsurpassed in it's grace and benevolence) dismissed or ridiculed all of it. None of them acknowledged, appreciated or felt anything for what Meg did to be with me. For even the fact that she could be killed. Floating dead in the ocean somewhere, under the waves, her family would never see or could imagine. Any words at all were said only on an evening when her family members had an audience at a presentation we were giving in Calgary. With the audience moved, it was only proper decorum in strangers' eyes, that Meg's family even show themselves and say the right words about us to others.

How we live now

Until this very day Meg and I are completely alone. Our family is the two of us. We have no support from anyone. We survive exclusively on our own will and wits. We have no mutual country of citizenship. So we travel from one country to another, where entry is allowed to both Canadians and Russians.

Meg resents that she is Canadian. She regrets not seeing her country's true colors before bringing us there, and resents that it crushed our dreams of having a country and a family. A place where she and I would not be attacked and berated, but would actually be welcomed and loved. It pains both of us beyond words that what we are and what we cherish the most -- our love, and risking everything for it, our desire for discovery, for making our dreams come true -- are the very aspects that Canada and Canadians detest us for.

The oceans, our boat and each other is our home. The two of us are outcasts, we have been living in exile and on the run for years. We have no idea how much longer we can go on under the conditions that we live in. So far, I see no signs that Meg and I will ever have a country, a homeland, a community that welcomes us and values what we have done to stay together and true to ourselves.

People's feedback

Still, we have been incredibly fortunate, we know that such people exist! What Meg and I did to be together has been acknowledged and appreciated. This outpouring of emotion, and recognition came from Americans. Only then, did I discover, that there were people in the world to whom love, freedom, honesty and sticking to what's right for you "was" important! They recognized all of it in our story. This attention was a huge boost to Meg's and my morale. We are still coasting on it. People's feedback made us see that we are not alone and that we might have a home one day.

Our voyage has never ended! Our destination was never Canada, and not even Meg's home. At the time, we, ourselves, didn't know that. When all along, what we were doing all of it for, was to live our authentic lives, to choose our own path and be true to ourselves. Over the years of trying to stay together while living on the run, we discovered that our home isn't a location, but us being together and keeping within us, everything we love.

We'll go on until we can't

Apart form Meg and I knowing that we will do anything to see another day together, we have no idea what will become of us. Weather or not we will have a country we won't be forced to leave, and where we won't be attacked for who we are. Meg and I developed a tremendous stamina to go on. It is our love for each other and our own lives. It is freedom, really. We are so "screwed", because we have become free. It is only sad, that in the modern world being free, standing up for your dignity, thinking on your feet, loving your life and depending on nobody, pushes you through the cracks and relegates you to the edges of the world.