A Promised Land

By Barack Obama

” All of this pulled me in different directions. It was as if, because of the very strangeness of my heritage and the worlds I straddled, I was from everywhere and nowhere at once, a combination of ill-fitting parts, like a platypus or some imaginary beast, confined to a fragile habitat, unsure of where I belonged. And I sensed, without fully understanding why or how, that unless I could stitch my life together and situate myself along some firm axis, I might end up in some basic way living my life alone.


“I’d anticipated this. “If I win, hon,” I said, “it will draw national attention. I’ll be the only African American in the Senate. With a higher profile, I can write another book, and it’ll sell a lot of copies, and that will cover the added expenses.”

Michelle let out a sharp laugh. I’d made some money on my first book, but nothing close to what it would take to pay for the expenses I was now talking about incurring. As my wife saw it—as most people would see it, I imagine—an unwritten book was hardly a financial plan.

“In other words,” she said, “you’ve got some magic beans in your pocket. That’s what you’re telling me. You have some magic beans, and you’re going to plant them, and overnight a huge beanstalk is going to grow high into the sky, and you’ll climb up the beanstalk, kill the giant who lives in the clouds, and then bring home a goose that lays golden eggs. Is that it?”

“Something like that,” I said.”


“Then I told myself that it was still the weekend and I needed a martini. That was another lesson the presidency was teaching me: Sometimes it didn’t matter how good your process was. Sometimes you were just screwed, and the best you could do was have a stiff drink—and light up a cigarette.”


“For eight years the walk down the West Colonnade framed my day—a minute-long, open-air commute from home to office and back again.”

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