The Obama Years: My Journey into Adulthood

I’ve lived through four presidents. If you’re smart enough, you’d know who was in office four presidents ago. As of last week, January 20th, Trump is my fifth president. *sigh* I never wanted this day to come. And it isn’t because we have a narcissistic reality star as our president.

This is hard to explain…

Each time a president left office it was the start of a new chapter in my life. It isn’t because I’m a political junkie who watches CNN all day. This is hard to explain. All of our memories correlate with whatever was going on at the time.

Clinton left office just as I started middle school. Throughout the Clinton years I found girls to be annoying rather than attractive. Bush became president just as I started looking at the booty. Seven years later I headed to college just as Bush was on his way out.

The Bush years represented the start of our ‘War on Terror.’ It was a time of optimism. America was setting out to topple terrorist regimes throughout the Middle East. That optimism turned to disillusionment. There was more to the War on Terror than met the eye. Pointless wars, scandals, and a recession led America to resent its president. After eight years America was ready for a new beginning.

America sounded a lot like me in high school.

High school was the winter of my life. At first I thought it would be a repeat of middle school. It would mean four more years of carousing with my childhood friends. Four more years of drawing obscene pictures in the back of textbooks. Four more years of scourging up and down Rockaway Boulevard with my friends. Instead it was four long years of self-hate, bullying, and social isolation.

Each year was better than the last. It wasn’t because the bullying became less severe over time. It was because I knew that once high school was over, the bullying would end.

No more being teased because of my weight. No more being called a ‘fat Mexican.’ No more going through metal detectors each morning. It meant moving on from the whore that cursed me out because I gave her chocolates on Valentine’s Day. I wouldn’t have to see her again. I could move on.

I didn’t know what to do with myself after graduating.

The remaining six months of the year consisted of eating and sleeping. It was six months of being ‘American.’ In December of that year I was accepted into a community college. I wasn’t ecstatic about going to college. I was willing to get college over and done with.

Things began changing gradually. Just as Bush was leaving office, life had gotten better. In the summer of that year I had my first job. I began making friends. Girls started noticing me. I had a greater degree of freedom than ever before.

The generic optimism following the 2008 presidential election was really irritating. Was it because Obama would be our first black president? Or was it because we were finally rid of Bush after eight long years? At the moment I felt that no matter who was president my life would stay as it was.

I was wrong.

Throughout those eight years I earned two college degrees. I lost weight and became self-confident. I went from Dickies and Tims to hickeys and Tims. (I’m just playing about the hickeys.)

On the flip side, I faced overwhelming pain. Family and friends came in one door and out of the other. I lived in abhorrent conditions. Under conditions which no one should have to live though. At times I thought of moving into a homeless shelter.

For eight years I was able to hold myself together. Not because I wanted to. It was because I had to. It was a matter of survival. Eight years before today I wasn’t able to hold myself together. I depended on others to hold me together. It never worked.

These past seventeen years have been a wild ride. Not just for me, but for America.

The Clinton years represented what some call ‘The End of History.’ It was supposed to be a time of peace and prosperity. The collapse of the Soviet Union gave way to western democracy in Eastern Europe. We were no longer lingering under the threat of nuclear annihilation. We were at peace.

The Bush years put an end to that pipe dream. The Cold War became the War on Terror. Throughout two wars and the threat of economic collapse, America stood strong. Obama did not change America per se. We still enforce ‘western democracy’ on countries that are hostile to western values.

I’m not a fan of President Obama. Neither am I a fan of Bush or Trump. BUT…

I will always long for the Obama years. It was a time in which I transcended into adulthood. It was eight years of growing pains, distress, depression, success, and happiness. I’ve always stood strong as America does in times of distress. And like America, I am unwilling to trade eight years of progress and stability for four years of uncertainty.

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