Reading this morning about Barack Obama’s youth (yet again) in the NY Times, I came across a paragraph that resonated with me:
Mr. Obama describes a scene in that period where, in the meat freezer of a deli, he watched someone named Micky — “my potential initiator” — pull out “the needle and the tubing,” apparently to shoot up heroin. Alarmed, Mr. Obama wrote that he imagined how an air bubble could kill him. Neither Mr. Kakugawa or the others interviewed for this article who knew Mr. Obama at Punahou recalled hearing that story from him.
The article is a long one, and it’s sprinkled throughout with little hints just like this one. The reader is quite clearly expected to come away with some questions. Did the stories Obama told in his book really happen? Or did he “embellish” for “some bizarre street cred”, as one blogger suggests? (Another bite here.)
Not having lived Obama’s life, we obviously cannot know for sure.
In terms of understanding what makes someone tick, though, Barack Obama is literally an open book. Nobody has to guess… and people are going to judge him on what’s there. Some will find absolutely nothing to which they can relate, and others — like me — will understand him at the deepest levels.
I do know one thing, though: drawing a fast conclusion from the Times’ innuendo is intellectually dishonest.
Because there are stories that simply don’t get told — experiences along life’s road that are so shocking, it’s just easier to keep them held deeply in one’s mind… or to tell them from a removed vantage point many years later as an illustration of something else.
Polimom has, unfortunately, several tales like Obama’s — incidents that were life-changers, yet impossible to discuss when they occurred, or even (in my case) many years later. I can’t picture myself ever talking to anyone about some of them — though I could possibly write about them.
Yet many of us have stories like these, at one level or another — whether we’ve told the tales or not.
Whether we admit it or not.