What Would Your Ex Say About YOU?

“Man what could I say about Jennifer…. She’s a sweet girl, don’t try her though because she comes hard. Other than that she definitely held me down and I will always appreciate her.

Now my ex didn’t actually say that but in my mind that is what I think he would say. Roughly two month ago, President Barack Obama two exes decided that they were going to pen a book describing their relationship with him. I wasn’t sure how he felt about it and his wife, Michelle, but I was definitely intrigued at the courage and content of what these women had to say.

Becoming Obama

When Barack Obama met Genevieve Cook in 1983 at a Christmas party in New York’s East Village, it was the start of his most serious romance yet. But as the 22-year-old Columbia grad began to shape his future, he was also struggling with his identity: American or international? Black or white? Drawing on conversations with both Cook and the president, David Maraniss, in an adaptation from his new Obama biography, has the untold story of the couple’s time together.

Related: David Maraniss discusses his biography of President Barack Obama—and his reaction to Genevieve Cook’s diaries being used—in a VF.com Q&A.

To see a picture of Obama and former girlfriend Genevieve Cook, pick up a copy of the June issue.

FROM A.P. IMAGES/OBAMA PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
BREAKING AWAY Obama in New York’s Central Park while a student at Columbia University, to which he transferred as a junior in 1981. Six months after graduation he began a long romantic relationship with Genevieve, who, like him, kept a journal.

Adapted from Barack Obama: The Story, by David Maraniss, to be published this month by Simon & Schuster; © 2012 by the author.

 Barack Obama transferred from Occidental College to Columbia University in 1981, his junior year. Although he left Los Angeles with enough ambitious propulsion to carry him into a more active period, he instead receded into the most existentialist stretch of his life. As he put it himself dec­ades later during an interview in the Oval Office, “I was leading a very ascetic existence, way too serious for my own good.” In most outward ways, compared with what had come before, his life in New York was a minimalist one, without the sprawling cast of characters that had surrounded him at Oxy and in Hawaii and Indonesia. He felt no attachment to Columbia or to the first jobs he landed after graduation. But it would be a misreading to say that he was tamping down his ambitions during that period. Just the opposite, in fact. If anything, his sense of destiny deepened. He was conducting an intense debate with himself over his past, pres­ent, and future, an internal struggle that he shared with only a few close friends, including his girlfriends, Alex McNear and Genevieve Cook, who kept a lasting rec­ord, one in letters, the other in her journal.

“Where Am I Going?”

It is exponentially easier to look back at a life than to live it forward. In retrospect it becomes apparent that New York was crucial to Obama. If he had not quite found his place yet, he was learning in which directions not to go and how to avoid turns that would lead him off the path and into traps from which it would be hard to escape. Even when he was uncertain about much else, Obama seemed hyper-alert to avoiding a future he did not want.

At age 20, Obama was a man of the world. He had never been to south-central Kansas or western Kenya, the homelands of his ancestors, yet his divided heritage from Africa and the American heartland had defined him from the beginning. He could not be of one place, rooted and provincial. From his years living in Indonesia, where he was fully immersed in Javanese schools and culture; from his adolescence in Hawaii, where he was in the polyglot sea of hapa and haole, Asians and islanders; from his mother’s long-term commitment to development work overseas; from his friendship with Pakistani students at Occidental and his extended visit to their country—from all of these he had experienced far more global diversity than the average college junior. He knew the ways of different cultures better than he knew himself.

Obama’s first apartment in New York, which he shared with Phil Boerner, a friend from Oxy, was at 142 West 109th Street. Heat and hot water were scarce commodities. When the nights turned colder, the roommates took to sleeping bags for warmth and spent as little waking time in the apartment as possible, holing up in Butler Library, at 114th, parts of which were open all night. Some mornings, eager to flee their quarters, they walked to the corner of Broadway and 112th to eat at Tom’s Restaurant, the place immortalized later as the fictional Monk’s, a familiar meeting place for the characters onSeinfeld. A full breakfast went for $1.99.

The loneliness of Obama’s New York existence emerged in his letters to Alex McNear, a young woman from Occidental who had enchanted Obama when she was co-editing the literary magazine Feast, and with whom he reconnected when she spent the summer of 1982 in New York. Alex had always been fond of Barry, as she called him, and “thought he was interesting in a very particular way. He really worked his way through an idea or question, turned it over, looked at it from all sides, and then he came to a precise and elegant conclusion.” When Alex came to New York, she gave Obama a call. They met at an Italian restaurant on Lexington Avenue, and, as she remembered the night, “we sat and talked and ate and drank wine. Or at least I drank wine. I think he drank something stronger. It was one of those dark, old Italian restaurants that don’t exist in New York anymore. It was the kind of place where they leave you alone. I remember thinking how happy I felt just talking to him, that I could talk to him for hours. We walked slowly back to my apartment, on 90th, and said good-bye. After that we started spending much more time together.”

Alex remembered it as a summer of walking miles through the city, lingering over meals at restaurants, hanging out at their apartments, visiting art museums, and talking about life. She recalled one intense conversation in particular as they stood outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Obama was obsessed with the concept of choice, she said. Did he have real choices in his life? Did he have free will? How much were his choices circumscribed by his background, his childhood, his socio-economic situation, the color of his skin, the expectations that others had of him? How did choice influence his pres­ent and future? Later, referring back to that discussion, he told Alex in a letter that he had used the word “choice” “as a convenient shorthand for the way my past resolves itself. Not just my past, but the past of my ancestors, the planet, the universe.” His obsession with the concept of choice, he said in a later interview at the White House, “was a deliberate effort on my part to press the pause button, essentially, and try to orient myself and say, ‘Okay, which way, where am I going?’ ”

(Source: Vanity Fair)

Could you imagine what your ex would say about you?

Imagine if there was an opportunity to go on a couple of dates with a guy or girl (for my male readers out there) and have the ability to talk to his/her exes within the last two years. Would you love to hear about your dates past or would you like life to take it’s course? I analyze EVERYTHING; it’s a love-hate relationship that I have with myself but sometimes those analysis have saved me a lot of heart ache and confusion.

However, how I treat one guy would be completely different from how I treated another. I will have the same characteristics and qualities but the composition of that relationship would vary from guy to guy.

So what would my ex say about me?

Hmm…interesting. We dated for 2.5 years and he met me when I was 17. I was pretty young and naive but I had a maturity and a strength to me that impressed him. I can’t speak for him but I CAN speak for myself. I was very outgoing, friendly, guarded, humorous, eager, competitive, a dreamer and active on campus.  Being a part of several organizations on campus and my outgoing spirit definitely caught his attention. I wasn’t shy when he first approached me; I was with my best friend and I noticed a friend of mine speaking to him in the middle of the hallway. I was chatting with my bestie, when he approached us. I discreetly tapped my bestie and gave her that look of confirmation…he was cute and I wanted him to come over. Immediately attracted by his smile and confidence, he captivated my attention. From there it was a wrap, I was completely enamored by the guy.

Like any relationship we had our ups and downs. He was a senior at the time of our relationship and I was just a freshman. Knowing what I know now, I would have handled several situations differently. I wasn’t too aware of his past andthe girls who he had dealt with during his undergrad tenure. Once it was apparent that some of these “friends” were in the picture, I was a bit caught off guard. After we broke up, (funny how you are told things AFTER a relationship has ended) I found out the true nature of some of those “friendships” and I was quite shocked. Had I known earlier about his past, I wouldn’t have been so starry-eyed over him.

Oh well, you live and you learn.

For instance, a close friend of mine liked this guy and wanted to see if I had information about him that might change her decision on taking things a step further….she wanted a recent carfax on this guy and I was willingly and happily ready to provide that information. Not only did I know the girl that he cheated on for years, I also knew the girl that he cheated with. This guy was no good…especially for a good friend of mine. Was it difficult to tell my friend that she liked a jerk? Yes it was, but I saved her a whole lot of stress.  However, at the end of the day the decision remained in my friend’s hands.

Now before you say that I am blocker and/or a hater, I believe getting some insight into someone’s past can be very helpful. I can’t say that the guy will treat her exactly like his ex but that is one behavior that she was not looking to disregard.

Should you willingly go and snoop in someone’s past to see how they treat you? I say NO. Trust me when I say that TIME TELLS ALL. Yes, the honeymoon phases in dating and relationships are only for awhile and than the real person character truly shows. The ‘representatives’ are put back in the closet and you see the person for who they are.  One thing that my mother has taught me is that it’s not what someone says but it is what they do.

Don’t just listen but WATCH!

Yes, there can be contradicting behavior and it can be quite confusion. Just remember that not everyone has the same agenda as you and not everyone will treat you with the respect that you deserve. If you listen and watch and make your boundaries clear with yourself and them than you can potentially save yourself the time, confusion and heartache.

Understand that this is not 100% full proof… nothing in life is, but if you remember that the only person you can control is yourself than you are good to go. Hearing past information from a former flame may not change any aspect of that person and how they deal with you… remember that.

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