Recently I bought Michelle Obama’s book BECOMING and settled down in my chair with my Chai Tea Latte, warm throw on my legs, and prepared to read about Michelle’s life from childhood to White House to now and be entertained. I was not prepared to be totally engrossed and integrated into her story.
Michelle writes the way she speaks. As I read her words, I heard her voice as if we were in her living room in Hyde Park with shoes off, sitting on her couch with a glass of wine having girl talk. Then it happened. Reading Michelle’s story intertwined with my story. I’m sure this happened to many of you who has read her book. You realize we took some of the same paths to become who we are.
She tells us of her growing up in the South Shore area of Chicago in the small top floor apartment of her Aunts home with her hard-working mother and father who expected Michelle and her brother to do their very best to achieve whatever goals that were set in front of them. My mind drifted to my little neighborhood on the north end of Champaign, Illinois. My daddy was a janitor and my mother, a domestic worker. We had a two-bedroom home which I shared a room with my older sister and later my younger brother until I went away to college. I smiled when she spoke about the family dynamics and relationships. I laughed out loud as if I were there with because her story related the experiences of not only my family but all the kids I grew up with.
I met Michelle Obama long before she became First Lady of the country and like so many who may not have been apart of her secure circle of friends, she never made me feel as if I didn’t belong in her space. We worked out with the same trainer and partied at Stella Foster’s annual birthday party. When a good friend Yvonne put together a lady’s afternoon to cheer me up after being let go from V-103, Michelle and so many other great ladies attended. As I read about her relationship with Barack, I remembered times when I was on V-103 and then on SOUL 106.3, Barack would come to the studio to talk about voter registration and then his bid for the Senate. We would ask about Michelle and the girls and his smile would grow wide and he would look so happy. I would tell our show host, John Monds, if I could find a man who looked that way when someone mentioned my name, I would be the happiest woman in the world. Michelle is honest about the ups, downs, great and trying times in a relationship. So many would not have been so honest.
As I read on many memories came to mind. I was one of thousands who was in Grant Park that unseasonable warm night when the Obama's became our nations First Family. As Michelle describes their driving down a deserted Lake Shore Drive, I had to close the book at this point because the memories came flooding back. I remembered being in the Press area nervous as all get out. To be honest I didn’t think we would get it but praying we would. As the Megatron displayed the news of Barack Obama President, tears rolled down my face and I was hugged by some white man I didn’t know as the family stepped on stage. It was magic and I knew that I will probably never be able to get close to two people I knew as friends again. As I picked up the book to continue reading, I had to wipe my face tears were flowing again.
Michelle writes about the inauguration and like so many others I was there in the cold of D.C. to experience history being made. The next day I had the chance to go on a tour of the White House, as we turned the corner there was Michelle greeting people as they came through. She looked and saw me in line and said “Bonnie, what are you doing here? Welcome to my house.” She broke protocol and gave me a hug. Oh, I was the stuff that day, I was hugged by Michelle Obama the First Lady of the United States but more important, Michelle from the South Side of Chicago.
Reading about what it means to be the first family Michelle doesn’t hold back or sugar coat things, but then why would she? The whole book is straight, no chaser.
When I closed the book after reading the last page, I exhaled and felt happy. I know the Obama’s are going to be fine, Michelle is still evolving and inspiring our youth as well as those of us who are a little more seasoned. After reading this book I also know that whatever experiences we all have had and will have, I am looking forward to step into becoming the next phase of me.
Until next time keep your EYE to the sky!