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Out of hundreds of Iraqi girls in her Baghdad high school, she is the only one whose name means beautiful. This is how I learned one of only two words I’ve mastered in Arabic so far. The other is the word for avocado . . . which is avocado. Factoid: She loves guacamole. As host-mom for a month, you’d think I’d have picked up on a few other words, but mostly she wanted to know how I say things. So I said things. And I took her picture often–with her permission.

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We covered figurative language as I unabashedly exposed my rabid disapproval of the Cheeto-Dusted Bloviator . . . Agent Orange . . . yes, him, the Assaulter-in-Chief in our White House. She was never entirely sure I should be talking like that about the president of this county. I think she would have changed the subject if she knew how . . . she was worried for my safety . . . she’s read terrible things about what happens to some Americans in this country.

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Well, someone else can (and does) stick to the company line. I’m keeping it real on my watch, although we did cover a lot of other territory.

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We fished for bluegill, savored ice cream, teeter-tottered, reburied some poorly-laid turtle eggs, nearly flew out of the speedboat jumping waves on Lake Michigan, and mutually crushed on Mena Massoud.

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She showed me how to make dolmeh and gave me too many presents. I met her parents thanks to WhatsApp, and Yes, of course, I’m coming to see them all very soon after the Screaming Carrot Demon is voted out of office.

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Soon enough, she’ll be back home. She has big plans that she’ll deliver on even when her parents choose her husband. She assures me she can say no. Well, don’t agree to anything until you kiss him . . . you won’t know everything you need to know without that, I tell her. She shakes her head vehemently . . . no no that cannot happen until after they’re married, and if she’s caught breaking that rule, her head can be cut off . . . or she could be shot in the head . . . headshot.

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. . . this head

. . . this beautiful head and fine mind

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Is she any safer here than she is there? Am I?

Every night I put my hand on this country,
It slips away from my fingers,
Like a soldier running from the front.

(from The Last Iraq by Fadhil al-Azzawi)

© by Leeanne Seaver, July 23, 2019

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