Ximena Larkin has been all over the world with Barack Obama. Well, a cardboard cutout of the former president, but don't tell Michelle.
"Barack and I have been to New York multiple times," said Larkin during one of her strolls with Obama. "We’ve also gone to Arizona, Scottsdale, L.A. twice."
I think he's a symbol of hope and unity in the city.
The Chicago native is carries the life-size Obama on the train, at parties and dinners for a reason.
"I didn’t want to get nervous when I met him," said Larkin. "I figured I’ll buy a cutout of him and have him around so that way I feel normal about meeting him and talking to him and I wouldn’t freeze up."
She says she started carrying the cutout when the former president's term was coming to an end as a way to show her appreciation for the 43rd president of the United States. When Donald Trump took over, she decided to keep carrying "Barry" around as a beacon of hope. And because she still has hopes of meeting him one day.
"I started this with the hope that I would meet Barack Obama one day," said Larkin, "but really, what’s kept me going is that I get to meet so many other interesting people."
She posts pictures of her encounters with people on social media using the hashtag #BarackingAround. The interactions range from quick to full-on vent sessions, but she says they sometimes lead to emotional encounters. When we spent the day with her, her Uber driver got emotional when talking about Obama.
"I came to this country to do better for myself and for my family," Juan Jimenez told Larkin before he dropped her of at work. "And a lot of things happen that is really sad," he said, wiping away tears.
Larkin takes Barack everywhere—even to work. And she's been doing so for a year now.
"I’ll keep going as along as I need to," says Larkin. "I know Barack has really important things to deal with right now, so there’s, like, no pressure. I don't show up when they're saying there are sightings at the court house and all that. I don't do any of that."