My Unexpected French Guests
by Weam Namou
I was working on my book when I received a call from a friend attorney. She said there were French reporters/filmmakers doing a documentary entitled “My Beloved Enemy” about Iraqi Americans. They were looking for Warina Zaya Bashou, who at 111 years old became the second oldest person to be granted a US citizenship. I’d interviewed Warina and wrote an article about her last year. Unfortunately, Warina passed away a few months ago.
My friend asked permission to give the French team my phone number and the next thing I knew I had three beautiful and gracious French people at my door – an attractive blonde woman and two tall and dark handsome men. With the presence of my mother and my children, we ended up having a little brunch together and learning much from each other. And my mom was interviewed about her experience in attaining her citizenship in 1997, which was a tremendous accomplishment for her – never having gone to school.
As we interacted, I couldn’t help but think about the words of my Native American teacher. “If you stay long enough in one place the whole world will pass by.”
My love for France started in 1999. I was visiting London with a friend when she and I decided to hop over to Paris for a day. Yes, a day! Who does that? People were known to pack up and move to France permanently and we expected to get our heart’s full in a day?
The moment we landed in Paris, we loved it. The city was so alive that I was determined to return and stay a lot longer. That didn’t happen so instead, I tried to swap the experience with movies and books. I bought a copy of “Julie and Julia” two years ago and watched it umpteen times. I watched “Midnight in Paris” in the movie theater and then repeatedly after it was on DVD. If you go in my car right now, you’ll find a CD audio book of “My Life in Paris” by Julia Child. If you look in my purse, you’ll see on the cover of my planner the photo of the EiffelTower.
While I’m certain one day I’ll revisit France, I’m very happy that today it visited me.