In honor of her awesomeness this week, I thought I’d share the story of the day Michelle Obama met Jessica Packard.
It was Veterans Day 2011 and I had two tickets to the Carrier Classic college basketball game aboard the USS Carl Vinson. I was so excited. The President was going to be there, and tons of other celebrities.
These tickets were not easy for the public to get. Luckily my boss scored a bunch and was feeling generous.
So after going through intense security checks, we finally walked onto the flight deck of the ship. How beautiful. The San Diego skyline glistened in the distance. It was a deliciously perfect day and there was so much energy aboard the ship.
My boyfriend and I decided to take a stroll around the flight deck. And who did we run into? A giant of a man named Magic Johnson, one of my childhood heroes. He towered above the crowd and was very easy to spot. I could’ve gone home at that point and been happy just seeing him.
Suddenly a hush spread over the crowd. Everyone turned their heads to the left as they stared intensely at the flight path. An enormous pale blue and white airplane broke through the clouds and headed toward North Island to land. Air Force One. SO cool.
In a few minutes the President of the United States was going to be in the same space as me, Jessica Packard. I’d never met an acting president before. I saw President Clinton speak once in college but that was post-Lewinsky and office (he was a great speaker, by the way).
The crowd stood silently, excited in hopes of spotting Mr. Obama.
Then… the beautiful sounds of “Hail to the Chief” burst out of the speakers. Here he comes!
I was 10 rows from him as he walked onto the basketball court. He delivered an inspirational and moving speech in honor of Veterans Day. I couldn’t stop smiling because I was so excited. And as I looked around, I felt so lucky to be there with him and all of the troops.
I didn’t really watch the game. I’m entranced with this man who is so powerful and sitting so close to me.
At some point, we decided to get some food. My boyfriend and I headed toward the concession stand and waited in line for what seemed like forever. As we were walking back to our seats, I see her… Michelle Obama.
Immediately I established eye contact and froze in disbelief. I couldn’t move. Pretty sure my limbs were numb. I realized I was no longer in control of my body. My grin spread uncontrollably. She looked at me and smiled and said, “How are you?” I looked to my left and then to my right. Wait, she’s speaking to me?
“I’m well, how are you?” I said in a prepubescent-little-boy-voice, shaking uncontrollably. Everything was moving in slow motion as she walked by me. She stopped for a second and said, “Have a good time!” and then continued walking. I couldn’t say anything back. I simply stood there, frozen and with my mouth wide open.
What just happened? The First Lady of the United States actually spoke to me? And she’s the one who initiated the conversation?
I turned excitedly to my boyfriend to discuss what just happened.
“The First Lady just spoke to me!” I said excitedly. He just laughed.
Then… I reflected on my actions. The staring, the goofy grin, the awkward and squeaky voice… Oh no.
“Do you think she thought I was a little… eh… slow and that’s why she said hi to me?” I asked my boyfriend.
He immediately started laughing and I can tell he was thinking the same thing… Michelle Obama just encountered a “special” Jessica.
Regardless of how ridiculous I acted, I got to meet Mrs. Obama — and I’ll never forget it!