08
Feb
11

from the archives….

“An Intimate Conversation with Michelle and Barack Obama” was conducted in 1996 for a book about American marriages …. the interview took place only four years after they married and two years before their oldest daughter Malia was born.

ABC and The New Yorker (extracts):

Michelle Obama: “It was strange, that excitement over this first-year student,” then-32-year-old Michelle recalls when describing the buzz about a new summer associate at the law firm Sidley and Austin. “So smart, so good-looking, so intelligent, everyone was talking about Barack. I’m more of the skeptical kind, I was thinking, ‘Yeah, he’s probably an idiot, whatever.’

…then on the first day, he showed up late. He was late because it’d been raining! And then he walked into the office and we got along right away because he was charming and very good-looking, at least I found him good-looking. I think we were attracted to one another because we didn’t take ourselves too seriously, like some others did. He liked my dry humor and my sarcastic comments. I thought he was a good man, interesting, and I was fascinated by his personal story, so different from mine… our relationship was first a friendship. It took off from there.”

…Barack has helped me loosen up and feel comfortable with taking risks, not doing things the traditional way and sort of testing it out, because that is how he grew up. I’m more traditional; he’s the one in the couple that, I think, is the less traditional individual. You can probably tell from the photographs — he’s just more out there, more flamboyant. I’m more, like, “Well, let’s wait and see. What did that look like? How much does it weigh?

….There is a strong possibility that Barack will pursue a political career, although it’s unclear. There is a little tension with that. I’m very wary of politics. I think he’s too much of a good guy for the kind of brutality, the skepticism.

When you are involved in politics, your life is an open book, and people can come in who don’t necessarily have good intent. I’m pretty private, and like to surround myself with people that I trust and love. In politics you’ve got to open yourself to a lot of different people. There is a possibility that our futures will go that way, even though I want to have kids and travel, spend time with family, and like spending time with friends. But we are going to be busy people doing lots of stuff. And it’ll be interesting to see what life has to offer.”

Barack Obama: “All my life, I have been stitching together a family, through stories or memories or friends or ideas. Michelle has had a very different background—very stable, two-parent family, mother at home, brother and dog, living in the same house all their lives. We represent two strands of family life in this country—the strand that is very stable and solid, and then the strand that is breaking out of the constraints of traditional families, travelling, separated, mobile. I think there was that strand in me of imagining what it would be like to have a stable, solid, secure family life.

Michelle is a tremendously strong person, and has a very strong sense of herself and who she is and where she comes from. But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerability that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman. There is a part of her that is vulnerable and young and sometimes frightened, and I think seeing both of those things is what attracted me to her.

And then what sustains our relationship is I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.”

(Lovely blog post on the top photo here)


42 Responses to “from the archives….”


  1. February 8, 2011 at 10:23 am

    SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL… THEN AND NOW!

  2. 2 Fred
    February 8, 2011 at 10:57 am

    this is great :D

    thanks Chip ;)

  3. 5 Hachikō
    February 8, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I’m crying right now. I’m not altogether sure why. Part of Barack’s story resonates with me, because we share that experience: “All my life, I have been stitching together a family, through stories or memories or friends or ideas.” That’s been my life too, and I know what it’s like to yearn for the more traditional, stable family life. I’ve tried to achieve that balance – been married several times – but it still eludes me…fortunately or unfortunately – only time will tell.

    I also suspect that, perhaps, Barack’s love for Michelle runs deeper than hers for him. I’m not sure – it’s just a feeling, which is bolstered by the way he describes his connection to her:

    “And then what sustains our relationship is I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start… It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.”

    I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve never felt that way about another human being – except my son…and then there’s my dog. :)

    • February 8, 2011 at 11:15 am

      Hey Hachikō, the “stitching together a family” line really struck a chord with me too, I think so many people spend their lives trying to do just that. I actually marvel at people who have such stable family lives, I really don’t know how they do it.

      The intensity of his feelings for Michelle, as described in the article, are overwhelming, but I honestly suspect hers are just as strong – I just think she’s much shyer about talking so openly about her feelings for him. What struck me in his books was how grateful he was to her for giving him the warmth and security of a stable family life for the first time in his life, something, as he said, she has always had. I suspect that’s where a lot of that intensity comes from, and all these years later you can still how overjoyed he is to have the love of his “three girls”. Plus Bo :-)

      • 7 EDP4BHO
        February 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm

        “and all these years later you can still how overjoyed he is to have the love of his “three girls”. Plus Bo”

        Right CS. They are his “security blanket”. I see Michelle as someone who is no nonsense, and who can do just fine on her own. She shows that. She’s strong but knows how and when to defer to her husband. She just doesn’t let anyone overshadow her. I’m like this myself, and it is an ongoing effort to not let my strong personality
        get in the way of relationships. I haven’t been successful yet…LOL…but at my age, I really don’t care anymore. I pray that they will remain there for each other. President Obama speaks of her vulnerabilities….his is his unstable family life and longing for that stability which he has found. God bless them.

        • 8 Dorothy Rissman
          February 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm

          EDP4, Thank you for sharing that. God bless you.

          • 9 EDP4BHO
            February 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

            And God bless you always Dorothy. My, we are some loving folks on this board today, aren’t we? I mean that sincerely. :-D This is why I visit each and every day. Supporting President Obama brings out the best in people. That’s why those other folks are so miserable…they need to get a clue and get on board, wouldn’t you say?

      • 10 Hachikō
        February 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

        He loves his family more than anything in the world. He’s a fine example of a friend, a father, a husband…a human being.

        I suspect you’re right about Michelle. She just shows it differently. :-)

      • 11 Sue in Minnesota
        February 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm

        Remind yourselves that even families that stay together have to stitch, and patch, and strive to be as stable as they appear to be superficially. And sometimes, staying together is not a healthy option. Relationships….what we all have to constantly work at, to constantly tend, to constantly nurture, and to constantly respect if we are to thrive, individually, collectively, universally.

        As Stevie Wonder sings,….”it’s not about the religion it’s about the relationship.” Time 2 Love 2005.

        Michelle and Barack each bring alot as individuals to their relationship, but you know they work at it. What is really amazing to me is the sense that what we see, we can believe to be authentic and real. Really remarkable people, individually, but expotentially as a couple.

    • 12 Dorothy Rissman
      February 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      Hachiko, I too suspect that Barack’s love for Michelle runs deeper than hers for him. In a way, she is his true family. So many changes in the young Obama’s life, made him eager to settle down.

      • 13 danadevin74
        February 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm

        Im not understanding how you can suspect that Barack Obama loves Michelle more that she loves him
        What has she done to make you suspect that? just curious

        • 14 Hachikō
          February 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm

          We could be wrong! :-) Not trying to start anything. Just, for me, I’ve noticed he’s reacts vividly when he’s around her. She’s more cool and reserved. Even in the way they describe their feelings for each other. Again, his is more vivid and emotional. Her’s is more practical and guarded. That is my perception.

          • 15 danadevin74
            February 8, 2011 at 5:14 pm

            Yes i understand what your saying

          • 16 Sue in Minnesota
            February 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

            After reading the blog post, I found myself looking more closely at the photograph. Just some of the things that stood out to me:
            How wide open Barack is, his arms at once both embracing Michelle and open to viewer. Physically, her body is more closed, perhaps reflective of her more reserved nature, and the privacy she expressed as important to her. The way they are positioned, she is in a way partially shielding Barack. I think her love both protects and emboldens him. Look at the way he looks straight into the camera, she, on the other hand looks at the camera with a somewhat skeptical, almost cautious glance (a look I have seen on little Sasha’s face from time to time). As indicated in the article, she had reservations about the impacts of a political life. And yet clearly they are united, and as I look at the photograph neither one stands out more than the other…..they are equals.

            Personally, I think they have a “mighty, mighty” love. I believe they love each other equally, but I do think they express themselves differently. I think shared, their love provides each other both the security and the courage to expand and extend their gifts to benefit millions. I am so grateful to them both, and the families that raised them.

            • 17 Hachikō
              February 9, 2011 at 6:40 am

              Interesting observations, Sue. I hate to bring the fool into this discussion, but I’d put up Michelle Obama against mama grizzly-in-chief any day. She’s fiercely protective of her family. She just knows how do it with class and without offending anyone in the process.

              • 18 Sue in Minnesota
                February 11, 2011 at 12:58 am

                Oh I am so with you in your assessment. Sarah Palin IMO is a narcissist, I don’t see anything about her as worthy of lauding or emulating. I wish she would disappear……completely from the national conversation, until she does, she remains IMO, a national embarrassment.

          • 19 QuietObserver
            February 8, 2011 at 10:16 pm

            Hi guys.

            I usually just lurk here (great site BTW), so this is my first post. I have to say that I never feel comfortable trying to guess how people “truly” feel about each other, because people show love differently. I, for example, am not a saccharine-loving, touchy-feely kind of person. Sometimes, I don’t even want to be in the same room with those I love, but that does not make that love any less deep and profound.

            Barack shows emotion and affection differently than Michelle. I think he is just more willing to wear his heart on his sleeve when he talks about his family. Michelle seems more private in that aspect. But I do remember during the 2010 campaign season, she introduced him by saying something along the lines of ‘You’re the love of my life, even if you don’t always know it.” I thought that was sweet. =)

            • 20 Lovepolitics2008
              February 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm

              I agree with you. And let’s not forget that Michelle has been making some big sacrifices for many years so he can realize his dreams.

    • 21 majii
      February 8, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      Hachikō,

      There are millions of people who have had a life similar to yours. You’re a beautiful person inside and out. These things can’t be taken for granted, except by others who fail to appreciate them. I see you as a strong person who has experienced adversities that have only made you stronger. I can testify to the fact that just when you sometimes think that things can’t get better, they do. My S/O and I were high school sweethearts who lost touch with each other for 40 years. He ran into one of my brothers last year at a convenience store, and asked him whether I was still married. My brother said no. He asked for my phone number, and my brother was more than happy to oblige. He called, and after a few months of talking on the phone, he came over and we saw each other again for the first time in 40 years. The love and respect was still there, and this past Sunday, he asked me to marry him. I said yes. I never would have thought that I’d reconnect with my high school sweetheart after 40 years and be looking forward to spending the rest of my life with him! It just goes to show that you never know what life has in store for you. I had been praying for someone wonderful who is a Christian and likes going to church, and he is both. I’m living proof that God does answer prayers.

      • 22 Hachikō
        February 9, 2011 at 6:36 am

        majii, congratulations! Oh my goodness, my heart is singing for you. Isn’t life strange and wonderful? Wow. You must be glowing. I’m so so so happy for you. :-)

        God has been good to me, and in many ways, I do feel blessed. I hope that whatever He’s been preparing me for my whole like, I’ll live up to the challenge once the purpose has been revealed to me.

        Congratulations again, my dear. I wish you every happiness. :)

      • February 9, 2011 at 10:46 am

        Majii, what a beautiful story! Just thrilled for you, what a truly lovely thing to happen – hey, there’s a movie in this!! Wishing you and your husband-to-be all the happiness in the world.

    • 24 Audrey
      February 9, 2011 at 7:25 am

      She loves him completely. She is just more guarded and suspicious of sharing her personal life especially with a public that will turn on you in a heartbeat and misuse any information.
      I remember reading that he was never really interested in getting married. He had mixed feelings about the concept of marriage and never felt that a piece of paper was necessary to support a loving relationship. She on the other hand wanted the traditional commitment of marriage and she gave him several ultimatums :-)

      He took her out to dinner one night and surprised her with a ring in the dessert!

  4. 25 Asher in Boston
    February 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Wow, such an insight into their lives. Love these guys.

  5. 26 Kelly
    February 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Aww that looks like a fertility statue on the table, if it is I am glad it worked, even though it took 2 years after that pic. I love these people.

  6. 27 VC prezOfan2
    February 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Chipsticks, I saw that title and a BIG, BIG smile spread over my face and through my heart! THANKS! I read, and loved, that article in 2009, but had totally forgotten it. I have got to say you, my dear, are inspired! It is really fun to read, or watch, material from years ago and(in retrospect) see the elements of prescience they contain. This is a wonderful period we are living through – we have past history and current actions at our fingertips, at the same time that we just KNOW we are in the midst of writing a spectacular (American)presidential history. I never thought politicis could be so involving, yet entertaining, and it’s all due to the personalities involved!

    Greetings everyone, hope you have all been enjoying your Tuesday!

    • February 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      Ah, thank you VC! I’d forgotten the article too, I don’t know why it came to mind today. Absolutely loved it, such an amazing insight to their thoughts and lives. Thanks VC, thrilled you enjoyed reading it again.

  7. 29 Perry
    February 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    What a gem of an article….gives some explanation why they are rock solid! Beautiful!

  8. 30 sly
    February 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I have tears in my eyes,Its such a beautiful story…I can relate too i grew up with a crazy dad and as a result i thot men were the devil!! when all the other gals were kissing boys i thot what a bunch of idiots! boys need to be destroyed!! I swore never to be married…I was gonna work hard in sch and then figure out how to be rich and powerful.Who needs men anyway? One day i met a hot dude and it was all over!! i’ve been married for 10 yrs to someone who gives me a sense of security,makes me happy,who isn’t scared of my brain,my ambition,who does’nt disrespect me in anyway and the funny part?? im always cooking for him…if u would have told me at 16 that i would be in a kitchen cooking for any man?!i would have laughed soo hard.
    Recently we took our 6 and 4yr olds to disneyland,we were soo tired!! btwn the heat,the tantrums,going on dizzy rides,the long lines…My hubby said we need to work out harder and eat healthier coz when our kids send the grandkids over for the summer we will be in trouble!! i locked myself in the bathroom and cried for a while… being a child of divorce and then hearing someone soo confident that this family will make it,is amazing,Im cutting him some slack for a while.
    Now if only he would learn how to check me out the way the President checks out Michelle.

    • 31 Theo67
      February 8, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      This is simply a lovely story with a happy ending. Thanks so much for sharing, especially to those of us still looking for Mr. Right after all these years!

    • 33 EDP4BHO
      February 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      Aw, you made me blush. What a lovely love story. I’m so glad you found the love of your life, who gave you the chance to believe again. I’m a sucker for true romance. Hang in there, you will make it just fine. As for the President, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a man who acts as though no one else is in the room when Michelle is there. What an honor to be treated so well.

    • February 8, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      What a beautiful story, Sly! This bit was just gorgeous:

      “My hubby said we need to work out harder and eat healthier coz when our kids send the grandkids over for the summer we will be in trouble!! i locked myself in the bathroom and cried for a while… being a child of divorce and then hearing someone soo confident that this family will make it,is amazing,Im cutting him some slack for a while.”

      Sounds to me like you more than deserve this happiness. Get your hubby to study a couple of videos of the President checking out Michelle, he’ll get there!

      • 36 sly
        February 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

        That checking out move is not easy,When the hubby tried,It looked cheesy and i didnt appreciate it hahahahaha
        The president “got game” Michelle is a lucky girl.
        Have a nice day:)

  9. February 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I loved this article since I first read it! I will just say I love the way he expresses his love for her.

  10. 38 newcenturywoman
    February 8, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    I, too,loved reading this archived article when I saw it over a year ago. Seeing excerpts from it now brings back vivid memories of how moved I was when I first read it. To restate what BG just said: I love the way he loves his wife in public. Whether its through words or actions, he knows just what to say and just where to touch.

  11. 40 majii
    February 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    “There is a strong possibility that Barack will pursue a political career, although it’s unclear. There is a little tension with that. I’m very wary of politics.

    Little did Michelle know at the time that she’d be our FL, and her hubby would be our beloved PBO. I can see why she’d worry about him entering politics because he’s too mush of a good guy to have to deal with the dishonest players he has to deal with as POTUS. I can see his goodness shining through in everything he does, and I believe that anyone who doesn’t see it has made up his/her mind to deny the obvious.

  12. 41 majii
    February 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    **too much**

    • 42 willet784
      February 8, 2011 at 11:57 pm

      Totally agree maji–overwhelmingly romantic. He really loves Michelle and is very open about it. Michelle loves him, too, but she’s more reserved about it. I love him expressing the dichotomy in her–she’s strong and guarded, but the vulnerability is there. Really sweet and romantic.


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