a world made just for two

In December of 1983, when Barack Obama was 22, he met Genevieve Cook, one of his first loves. It was at a Christmas party at the East Village in New York. And Obama wrote of her in his memoirs:

“There was a woman in New York that I loved,” he wrote. “She was white. She had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes. Her voice sounded like a wind chime. We saw each other for almost a year. On the weekends, mostly. Sometimes in her apartment, sometimes in mine. You know how you can fall into your own private world? Just two people, hidden and warm. Your own language. Your own customs. That’s how it was.”

Yet, Genevieve’s diaries spoke of a man whose warmth was still cold, distant at times. He harboured dreams, wanted to effect change, yet hid so much about his past, and erected walls. When Genevieve told him he loved her, his reply was “thank you”.

The sexual warmth is definitely there—but the rest of it has sharp edges and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all. I have to admit that I am feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons. His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness—and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me. – Genevieve’s diary

And in the end, their love and connection wasn’t enough. He was in pursuit of something entirely different, searching still for himself, only at the beginning of crafting his identity. Obama was still coming to terms with who he was- black or white, american or international, but Genevieve, hailing from distinguished, white and upper-class families, no longer fit in his path. In his memoirs, he describes it,

“I pushed her away. We started to fight. We started thinking about the future, and it pressed in on our warm little world.”

The future, pressing in on warm little worlds no longer big enough for two.

Source: Vanity Fair

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