Last night, I was part of the sold-out crowd that gathered at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., to see the only first lady I will recognize—Michelle Obama—at her Los Angeles tour stop for her new book, Becoming: An Intimate Conversation With Michelle Obama.
The Forum was packed. There was not an empty seat in the house. The air was electric. While there were plenty of men in attendance, it was the women who drew my attention.
When I tell you the women showed up and showed out? Man, listen. These women were dressed for their first lady. They were excited. Everyone was laughing and smiling and grinning at each other. I didn’t see anyone frowning or looking as though they had an attitude.
The parking situation and security screening to get into the venue took a lot of time, so our first lady delayed the 8 p.m. start of her program to make sure everyone was in their seats before she began. I thought that was awesome.
When things finally got underway, Tracee Ellis Ross came on stage to introduce our queen.
Tracee is her own form of black girl magic. She was wearing a beautiful floral gown, her hair in a bun. She was as excited to see our first lady as we were. She told us how she met the first lady and how they became fast friends. The entire time she spoke about Michelle, you could see the little Disney birds and forest animals flitting about her in her magical dress. Seriously. It was dope.
Then our queen came out to a standing ovation that lasted a long time. The shouts and cheers were real and loud. People were genuinely happy to see her.
She looked beautiful in her white, Olivia Pope-esque power pantsuit and heels. Even dressed up as she was, there was an open, airy casualness about her that we didn’t get to see often while she was living in the White House.
For the next 90 minutes, she and Tracee let us be a part of their intimate conversation as they discussed anecdotes from their favorite parts of the book.
Michelle told us that it was Barack’s voice over the phone that caught her attention first. She described it as “smooth like Barry White,” and the entire audience swooned. She spoke about their first lunch together and how everything was going smooth until the end—when he lit up a cigarette.
She said he didn’t get defensive when she called him out about it, but instead acknowledged that, “Yeah, it’s a bad habit.”
I fell in love with them both right then.
Michelle also spoke about the difficulties of being a wife and mother when your husband is heavily involved in politics. She said they struggled, especially because Malia and Sasha were so young. They went through marriage counseling.
Michelle said she felt like it was important to discuss the tribulations in their marriage because she so often sees on social media people tagging them with #RelationshipGoals. She said those people don’t realize they are only seeing the good, photographed moments. Behind the scenes, she said marriage is a lot of work—and you can’t be ready to give up at the first sign of trouble.
She spoke about how she tried to keep her children’s lives as normal as possible, even while living under the spotlight of the White House.
She shared how hard it was to swallow when people in both politics and the media would say negative things about her and her husband.
She even told us how often Barack would have to tell her to “fix your face” when the same people who trashed them a day ago in the news would show up to take pictures with them for photo ops.
All in all, the event was amazing, revealing, honest and real. It gave us insight into a woman and marriage for which we only had surface-level knowledge.
It gave us a chance to bond with our First Lady and know her as the woman she is, was, and is becoming.
I cannot wait to read this book.