Here is the future most powerful man in the world, judged through the eyes of a long-ago ex-girlfriend as she records in her personal journal the demise of their brief but intense relationship:
Thursday, May 23, 1985
Barack leaving my life—at least as far as being lovers goes. In the same way that the relationship was founded on calculated boundaries and carefully, rationally considered developments, it seems to be ending along coolly considered lines. I read back over the past year in my journals, and see and feel several themes in it all ... how from the beginning what I have been most concerned with has been my sense of Barack's withholding the kind of emotional involvement I was seeking. I guess I hoped time would change things and he'd let go and "fall in love" with me. Now, at this point, I'm left wondering if Barack's reserve, etc. is not just the time in his life, but, after all, emotional scarring that will make it difficult for him to get involved even after he's sorted his life through with age and experience. Hard to say, as obviously I was not the person that brought infatuation. (That lithe, bubbly, strong black lady is waiting somewhere!)
Barack was, of course, future President Barack Obama. The woman was Genevieve Cook, who met Obama in 1983 at a Christmas party in Manhattan's East Village. He was barely six months from his graduation from Columbia University. They crossed paths in the kitchen. He was wearing blue jeans, a T-shirt and a dark leather jacket.
The poignant, often intimate recollections come from "Barack Obama: The Story" by David Maraniss. Vanity Fair published excerpts of the book, which will be published in June. They confirm Obama's description of himself in his memoir "Dreams From My Father" as grappling with his identity. And they will resonate with those who regard Obama as charming but powerfully reserved, almost aloof—traits that have led more than one observer to liken him to "Star Trek's" Mr. Spock.
Thursday, January 26 How is he so old already, at the age of 22? I have to recognize (despite play of wry and mocking smile on lips) that I find his thereness very threatening. ... Distance, distance, distance, and wariness.
Saturday, February 25 The sexual warmth is definitely there—but the rest of it has sharp edges and I'm finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all. I have to admit that I am feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons. His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness—and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me.
At another point, in March, she described Obama as "drawing others' cards out of their hands for careful inspection" without reciprocating. "There's something also there of smoothed veneer, of guardedness ... but I'm still left with this feels of ... a bit of a wall—the veil," Cook wrote.
Maraniss writes that "when she told him that she loved him, his response was not 'I love you, too' but 'thank you'—as though he appreciated that someone loved him."
A May 9 entry described Obama as "so wary, wary. Has visions of his life, but in a hiatus as to their implementation—wants to fly, and hasn't yet started to take off, so resents extra weight."
Readers who want to will see Cook as predicting Obama's eventual marriage to first lady Michelle Obama.
"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 laugher, well-experienced—a black woman I keep seeing her as," she wrote.