by Adam Edelman
Leaving office was a change Barack Obama could believe in.
In the year after he handed the most powerful job in the world to Donald Trump, Obama’s foray into post-presidential life has included globe-trotting, book-writing, speech-giving and the unmistakable perks of semiprivate life — like sleep and nights out with Michelle, his wife and former first lady.
And while he has managed to largely stay out of the chaos that has mired Washington after his exit — minus a few public policy-related pronouncements — Obama has charged ahead with building his foundation and presidential center, ending 2017 with a pair of campaign rally appearances that revealed his love for the stump.
Those who know Obama best, however, say he doesn’t miss being commander in chief, and is happy having returned to a somewhat normal life.
“He’s really relishing his time,” Cecilia Munoz, who served as director of the Obama White House’s Domestic Policy Council, told NBC News.
“He was in there for eight years. We used to joke when we were in office that they weren’t regular years, they were dog years,” Munoz, who has seen the Obamas regularly over the past year, said.
Added Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior adviser when he was president, “He doesn’t spend any time at all wishing he were back in the Oval Office.”
“He is just very much enjoying the new chapter of his life, and he’s had a chance to spend real quality time with Mrs. Obama and his family,” she said, adding that his priority has been getting his foundation up and running and finishing his memoir.
But before starting on those tasks, he took time to rest, relax and travel.
Obama kicked off his return to civilian life with a February break in the British Virgin Islands, where he was a guest on the private island of the British billionaire Richard Branson. The pair were photographed palling around, and Obama even tried his hand at kiteboarding.
He followed that sojourn with a stay on the French Polynesian island of Tetiaroa, where he first hunkered down in solitude to begin writing his memoir before being joined by Michelle.
In May, he flew to Europe and met with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany just ahead of the NATO summit that Trump would take part in. Obama also made time for a days-long family vacation in the Tuscan countryside.
A month later, the Obamas and their daughters, Sasha, 16, and Malia, 19, took another family trip — to Indonesia, where the former president lived for several years as a child — and river rafted on the island of Bali.
But Obama couldn’t go long without returning to his roots as a community organizer. In April, he made his first public appearance since leaving office, encouraging students and young activists at the University of Chicago to “take their own crack at changing the world.”
Weeks later, in early May, he and Michelle unveiled design plans for the Obama Presidential Center in the Jackson Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
The focus of the center is not just to be a presidential library but to contribute to training “the next generation of leadership,” Obama said at the time, “so that they can take up the torch and lead the process of change in the future.”
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