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Reflecting on Old Love

It came to light last week that Barack Obama’s former girlfriends had shared details of their relationships with the President in a biography written by David Maraniss, an experienced Washington Post reporter. “Barack Obama: The Story” showcases the charming leader in his prime, young and ever-evolving within his movements from New York to Chicago. Diaries, letters, and oral memories open up the door to a loving Obama and a man struggling to find his identity in American society.

With its smooth timing during the Republican presidential nominee race, it would seem that the book was meant to spark trouble with the general public, to trudge up more muddy discussion in the president’s path towards re-election. However, there is a more important question that it seems to beckon is whether or not we would be able to face the skeletons from previous relationships? If Dwayne from middle school or Rafael from senior prom were to come back and share with us those special moments about ourselves — the good, the bad, and the ugly — would we be able to conceive how much we have changed from who we once were to who we are now? Reflection, after given enough time to heal from a bad relationship, makes us stronger lovers.

There’s something interesting about this thing called love. It has the ability to get us all strapped up and pulled away, finding joy in the few and close comfort of one. It can be both blinding and revealing, making us carefree and trusting while allowing us to see the abundant happiness that can exist in simplicity. And when it’s broken, it can be a dangerous and dark thing, a scary cave not to be crossed: the no-zone. What happens when old loves come back, rattling their bones, their presence and memories pushing us to question our present selves? Causing us to doubt how we love, who we love, or even, if we still know how to love?

Genevieve Cook was one of Obama’s past girlfriends, the daughter of a well-known Australian family.  She met Obama at a Christmas Party in 1983 in an East Village apartment in New York. It is intresting that Cook at the time was so intuitive to Obama’s true nature as a lover, what he wanted, and what challenged him. Just like other young college boys, Obama struggled with the bouts of unrequited love and humane hormones; Cook told Maraniss that Obama had confessed about being on a relentless search for the “perfect ideal woman…at the expense of hooking up with available girls.” In her journal, Cook described this ideal woman:  “I can’t help thinking that what he would really want, be powerfully drawn to, was a woman, very strong, very upright, a fighter, a laughter, well-experienced – a black woman I keep seeing her as.”

Michelle, perhaps? Can it be true that former lovers are more cognizant of who their partners should be with? Even in the present moment of a relationship as it rises and falls? Most likely. When we place ourselves in the midst of a dying relationship, it is easy to see all the bad that besets us. But rewinding to those minutes and very seconds when your tummy got that fluttery butterfly feeling for our exes, the good makes it self all the more apparent.

Reflecting and conversing upon past love and relationships is a healthy way for us as humans to become better lovers. With the good relationships we realize our strengths as individuals, what makes us tick with others in social interactions and what little things make us glow. Those simplicities in life are priceless and are the ultimate golden nuggets along our personal paths to happiness. And even looking back on the bad relationships, we not only see what went wrong (with us or with him) but how we can take steps to preventing such negativity and drama from re-entering our lives. It is so easy, and moreover preferred, to shut out the darkness that the past has brought us. But we must remember that even old love was once good love, even if the best of it was tainted heavily with cheat, lies, or violence. We must dig up these memories, those little ounces of goodness, and save them; it is in our past relationships that we can further consolidate our identities as lovers of each other and ourselves.

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