It’s always good to go home. It’s where I went last
week, and it's where President Obama popped back to, dropping in on Chicago the same day we returned from the Emerald Isle. Except he didn't have to stop at
traffic lights as he sped into town from O'Hare airport.
Chirish-land is proud of its presidential son but perhaps not
so keen when he heads home to water the houseplants due to the inevitable
traffic snarl-ups. Unlike other recent heads of state, his family home is not a
ranch in Texas or California but a 6 bedroom, 6,200 sq ft
red-brick house on a relatively quiet residential street in the South Side of Chicago.
Apparently not a great deal has changed since the Obamas had
to move because of his job relocation. Except that the street is now a good deal quieter as it
is blocked off completely by those nice men in black suits and sunglasses.
And as the same nice men are reportedly looking after the garden (and most
likely the houseplants), Obama himself has admitted the lawn has never looked
It must be a little tough on the neighbours 'though. All
visits have to be announced in advance and I pity any local teenagers hoping to
throw an impromptu house party while Mom and Dad are out of town. And then
there are the tour buses, inching their way through the busy residential
streets, just for the fleeting 3 seconds
it takes to drive behind the back of 5046 South Greenwood Ave.
The area is not new to celebrities. Just around the
corner is the former abode of Boxing World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali who
also co-founded the city’s largest mosque a few blocks away. Obama will no
doubt have been pleased to discover he also now has a permanent monument in the
nabe which will outlast his presidency. A local shopping mall has immortialised
the spot Michelle and he shared their first kiss after a Baskin
Robbins ice cream with a 3,000 lb granite boulder. Probably to mark where he "bowled her" over.
At the start of his first presidency, Obama said he hoped to return home every few months but in reality he has had few opportunities to
visit what is nicknamed the “Western White House”. Many are questioning whether the family
will eventually return once his Presidency ends in 2017. There was already speculation towards the
end of his first term the Obamas' house was going on the market
and the possibly no-longer 1st family would be moving to the 50th
state (as in "Hawaii 50"), where the lawns are always green, with or without the Secret Service.
The President no doubt was relieved not to have had to give up the day job last year. He's still reportedly paying off his mortgage on the home he bought for $1.65 million in 2005. But at least house prices have picked up a bit, with his home currently valued at just over $2 million by some real estate websites.
Of course when he comes to sell, he won't be able to boast of living in the "The World's Ultimate Gated Community" as was the case when his neighbours put their house in the market in 2009. But at least his lawn will be looking good.