A letter to Michelle Obama: Becoming
Since reading your book I feel like you’ve invited me to really know you, so I thought you wouldn’t mind if I began on first-name basis. Before we get to content, let me congratulate you on a fabulous cover. That 1000 watt smile made me grin right back at you.
‘Hey!’ I thought I heard you say, ‘I’m over here! I’m really happy to see you!’ And I know you meant it, because the bottom line is – it’s who you are. A genuinely caring, gracious woman who prioritizes getting to know people. It didn’t always come naturally to you I realise. You admit you always had issues with control. But you also came from a background where family is everything, and, in the case of your early upbringing – everywhere you look! Those days living in the apartment with your mom, dad and brother, with your aunt and uncle downstairs. The vibrancy of your family, the closeness of your relationships – all shine through in your own words:
“Everything that mattered was within a five-block radius-my grandparents and cousins, the church on the corner, the gas station… and the liquor store which also sold Wonderbread, penny candy, and gallons of milk“.
As I followed you around your neighbourhood, you shared an intimate glimpse into the personal lives of those closest to you. You pondered how far society had come since your Aunt Robbie sued the University for discrimination in 1943. Still not far enough it seems, as your college roommate’s mother removed her because you moved in. And it wasn’t because you snored. I like the honesty in your frank discussion about blossoming as a young woman, discovering sex and later ‘pot’. The journey to law school and success in your chosen career, the struggle watching your father refuse treatment for a debilitating medical condition knowing, even had he sought it, it may have made no difference. I saw Barak as you did at your first meeting, and frankly, I wouldn’t have been impressed by his lateness either. But he clearly worked his magic on you and I can understand it:
“Until now, I’d constructed my existence carefully, tucking and folding every loose and disorderly bit of it, as if building some tight and airless piece of origami…He was like a wind that threatened to unsettle everything“. Not like a storm or a cyclone of course, more like a persistent, steady gust, throwing things up in the air and then letting them settle before whisking them up again. Just as he did in politics – both strategies worked though, he got the girl and the gig!
Reading about the journey to the White House, is inspiring and exciting. Even thought I knew the outcome, my heart still pounded as the votes came in. Your story, contains the stories of many, and this speaks volumes about you, your husband and your work in the role of ‘The First Lady’. Its always about everyone – not just you.
The minute I finished your book, I ran out and bought Dreams From My Father. I think you know the author. You’re a hard act to follow but I’ll let you know my thoughts.