It was 1955 and there were two things I was sure of. I loved my husband deeply and he was a Soviet spy. We lived in Washington DC and he told me he worked for the KGB one evening while we were vacationing in Florida. I collected driftwood and seaweed and piled it high on the beach sand and set fire to it. We sat by the fire drinking gin and fruit juice. I laughed when he told me. It had to have been a joke. It was not. He explained that he needed me to know in case he ever disappeared or was called back to Moscow.
“It was important that I get married to seem as normal as possible,” he said.
My lips quivered. “You don’t love me?”
“Of course, I love you. Very much.” He wrapped his arms around me. I went to the beach house and absent-mindedly fixed dinner. Clams, mussels, corn on the cob, baby potatoes.
“What was it like? Soviet Russia.” I was curious.
He sighed and placed his hands on my waist. “It was brutal. There was never food.”
“But…we have so much. We want for nothing. So much food, furniture, clothes, two cars…We have everything. Why would you be opposed to any that if you grew up with nothing? The Soviet Union…is evil.” I didn’t understand why he wanted to undermine a country who gave him everything.
“The US is evil. Only, she has a different face. In her heart and soul, this country is corrupt.”
“And Mother Russia isn’t?”
We left the next for Washington. My husband worked in the State Department. He encouraged me to throw parties so he could observe and listen, to talk to wives and get information, to occasionally transmit messages to Moscow. And that was it. I became a spy against my country because I loved my husband. There was a small voice inside me that told me to turn him. To walk into the FBI and declare my husband a spy. But it was drowned by the louder voice of love.
I lived on the edge and in love until 1970 when Moscow called him in. We packed two suitcases each and left our immaculate and well-stocked home. We flew to Finland and crossed the border into Russia on foot. From there we boarded a plane to the capital. My husband was greeted warmly. I was given deference. The American wife of a spy who spied on her own country. He was given a one bedroom apartment with rickety furniture. I stood in line for bread and beef. One day, while standing in a line at the grocery I cried. I no longer liked my life. I went home and told my husband. He didn’t like Moscow either. He missed his home, mounds of food, his Cadillac. That night my husband met someone from the US Embassy. He became a spy for the Americans and so did I.
In 1970 there were two things I was sure of. I loved my husband and I was an American spy.