‘Well, you know, I work here, I’ve worked in neighbourhoods on the far south side.’ There were no brothers from Harvard who were working in communities. I was like, ‘Dude, wow!’ he started making me feel a little inadequate but I was impressed because it was a challenge. He would think all these deep thoughts. He was the opposite of me. I was on the straight path and he was swerving all over the place. His whole background was a swerve and that was an interesting contradiction to the whole way I was living my life. And he was cute on top of it! And then he asked me out. And I was like, ‘No, that would be tacky’ because I was thinking, ‘The two black people from Harvard dating? No that just looks crazy, these white folks are going to think like, ‘See they all like each other!’’ I was introducing him to friends and stuff like that they were a little too boujie for him. He met a friend who talked about writing and he was like, ‘Writing? Who writes?’ and I liked that about him because he didn’t like it too boujie. But he was persistent and he was essentially like, ‘Look, I could quit this summer associate job if that’s bothering you.’

So when did you know that Barack was the man you wanted to marry? You don’t learn about a partner right away, which is why I don’t personally believe in love at first sight. I believe if you like somebody and they’re really cute at first sight but what you really need to know about them, they reveal over time. Like how do they treat their mother, how do they care for women, how do they react to the waiter at the restaurant? It’s not like who are they when everybody is watching and they are at their best but how do they treat people, the least important of these people? The bus driver, the cab driver – how polite are they? What have their past relationships been like?

I wanted to see Barack in his home with his grandmother. Did he like strong women? Did he like women - period? I mean there are some men who like women but they don’t like women. I wanted to be with somebody who actually liked women. And all that stuff you don’t learn on a first date or through a kiss or whatever. So I always tell my daughters and the young girls in my life – take time and get to know this man, let him unpeel himself for you, give it time. Because people can’t fake that stuff over a long period of time. Somebody can fake being a good brother for like a month. But you can’t fake it for a year. You’re going to see some chips and you’ve got to give yourself time to see some chips. And I looked for the chips in Barack and there weren’t any that concerned me obviously.

So he really upended your life in a lot of ways? He did.

You write about the highs and lows of your relationship? Were there expectations that you had to let go of in order to move forward? Absolutely. I mean this is one of the reasons why I write about the marriage, the struggles and the challenges. Because people see couples like me and we are role model couples because we’re out there and people look at us and you see us in our best light. And trust me, most of the light is good, it’s great, I love my husband - but marriage is hard. I don’t want any young couple out there to enter into this thinking that it’s all Michelle and Barack Obama fist bump all the time. Because when you hit the natural snags of trying to build a life with two people, independent people together, it’s supposed to be hard. Doesn’t it sound hard? I’m a separate person, he’s a separate person, we’re



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