There was a time, he told me, when he’d been looser, more wild. He’d spent the first twenty years of his life going by the nickname Barry. As a teen, he smoked pot in the lush volcanic foothills of Oahu. At Occidental, he rode the waning energy of the 1970s, embracing Hendrix and the Stones. … He was white and black, African and American. He was modest and lived modestly, yet knew the richness of his own mind and the world of privilege that would open up to him as a result.
“Why would someone as smart as you do something as dumb as that?” I’d blurted on the very first day we met, watching him cap off our lunch with a smoke.
“I think we should go out,” Barack announced one afternoon as we sat finishing a meal. “What, you and me?” I feigned shock that he even considered it a possibility. “I told you, I don’t date. And I’m your adviser. ” He gave a wry laugh. “ Like that counts for anything. You’re not my boss,” he said.