A number of Barack Obama’s love letters to his first girlfriend has recently been released, shedding a light on the mind of the young former President.
The nine letters depict a “lyrical and poetic” young man whose main concerns were about money and his relationship.
The letters were made public to researchers through Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library. Officials say the university has had Obama’s love letters since 2014 but could only make them public now. The letters span 1982 to 1984.
Obama wrote to his then college girlfriend, Alexandra McNear, when he was studying at a California college before he moved to Columbia.
In one of the letters from September 1982, Obama writes: “I trust you know that I miss you, that my concern for you is as wide as the air, my confidence in you as deep as the sea, my love rich and plentiful.”
In another from 1983, he wrote: “I think of you often, though I stay confused about my feelings. It seems we will ever want what we cannot have; that’s what binds us; that’s what keeps us apart.”
The couple met at Occidental College and had a summer romance at the age of 20 in New York in 1981 when he transferred to Columbia to finish his studies.
“My ideas aren’t as crystallized as they were while in school, but they have an immediacy and weight that may be more useful if and when I’m less observer and more participant,” he wrote in a separate letter in 1984 to McNear.
Emory University professor Andra Gillispie said the letters were not as romantic as perhaps previous writings would have been as they were written during the end of their relationship.
The pair broke up in the mid-80s and McNear went on to work in green energy and marry a Serbian boxer. Obama moved on to his second love Genevieve Cook before marrying Michelle.
Professor Gillispie, however, said she would be using the romantic letters in an upcoming book about Obama. She plans to use the letters to craft a picture of Obama, the college student, and recent graduate.
Parts of Obama’s love letters have already appeared in books about Obama over the last few years. Rosemary Magee, the Rose Library director said Obama was “trying to find what his distinctive place would be both at that time and going forward.”
“They tell the journey of a young man who is seeking meaning and purpose in life and direction.”
In one of the letters while he was working for the newsletter Business International Money Report, Obama explains that he has “cultivated strong bonds with the black women and their children in the company, who work as librarians, receptionists, etc.”
He mentioned that the only black men there worked as teen messengers.
“The resistance I wage does wear me down – because of the position, the best I can hope for is a draw, since I have no vehicle or forum to try to change things. For this reason, I can’t stay very much longer than a year. Thankfully, I don’t yet feel like the job has dulled my senses or done irreparable damage to my values, although it has stalled their growth.”
He adds: ‘Salaries in the community organizations are too low to survive on right now, so I hope to work in some more conventional capacity for a year, allowing me to store up enough nuts to pursue those interests next.”