My ex-husband, Philip, is a citizen of five countries. I still marvel at how that’s possible. He is fully trilingual and sounds like he comes from his own mythical land. His accent in every language is just a little bit foreign. He is his own kind of people. I am too: an overeducated world wanderer, a former child immigrant who now hails from no particular place. It seemed so sad to me back then, to sound like no one else, to be alone in one’s dialect. I think that’s why I fell in love with him.
Philip and I met at Princeton — two ambiguously exotic, international business types, headed for New York and doing a very good job of seeming like American yuppies. We dated for four years and married at 24, took prestigious jobs in business, lived in New York and Paris and Amsterdam. I loved Philip deeply. That part was real. But I can admit now that I was pretending about the rest. The whole persona. It felt unnatural, but I clung to it. “I owe it to myself, don’t I?” I said about my job, about the polished man I had chosen. “Ten years ago I was sleeping in a refugee camp. There’s no actual choice here.”