Laura Bush on Life After the White House
Borrowed chairs and no newspapers
-The Betty Editors
Borrowed furniture, no newspaper delivery, prepared meals brought over by family friends – kind of sounds like a young couple fresh out of college, right? Nope – it’s the new Bushes, as they acclimate to their post-White House existence. Mrs. Bush is not exactly back in the kitchen yet, but she is settling in quickly and happily to life outside the White House. In an interview with ABC News, the former first lady talked about “normal life” back in Texas – or, at least – somewhat normal, as not everyone has the Secret Service living next door to their 8,500-square-foot house …
“We have very little furniture. We don’t have a kitchen table or a dining-room table,” she said. “Friends loaned me a kitchen table, and the other night I had 16 people for dinner and I had to borrow chairs from the Secret Service next door.”
Friends have been bringing meals over (hence, no need for Laura to put on her apron yet), and also bringing the Bushes newspapers, as they seem to be having a hard time getting their delivery service set up. In fact – Mrs. Bush says she’s been so unplugged from the Washington, D.C., clock lately that she “totally forgot” to watch President Obama’s address the other night.
“The next day I thought it was so ironic that for eight years I would be a nervous wreck before the State of the Union, and for days before, as George would be preparing his speech, worried about it and thinking about what was going to be in the speech. And this time it came and went and I didn’t even think about it.”
For now, Mrs. Bush is enjoying the little things. “Just being able to walk outside,” she said. “It’s been great.”
Life certainly sounds a lot more peaceful at home in Texas:
“I didn’t realize how stressful that life was until I went to bed one night and thought, ‘Now what am I going to do tomorrow?’ [I] got in bed and sort of worried and then remembered I didn’t have anything to do tomorrow except unpack boxes and have fun and see my friends and do things like that.”
Don’t expect the Bushes to retire quietly though – they still have plans to make their marks in the world. Former President Bush has joined the speaking circuit, and the couple recently paid a surprise visit to their neighborhood school, Dallas ISD’s John J. Pershing Elementary. Mr. Bush visited every classroom and told kids that reading is the key to everything, including to being president.
Looking ahead, Mrs. Bush tells CBS she would love to return to Afghanistan, where she traveled three times as First Lady (making her the first ever to do so). The plight of women is Afghanistan was something she focused on as First Lady, and it sounds like she’ll be keeping a close watch to see how the Obama administration handles the situation there. ABC reports: “She said there are ‘encouraging signs’ out of Afghanistan as well, but the United States must continue to have a presence there, working with the Afghan people and government to rebuild what she called ‘a failed state.'”
In the meantime, the Obamas will have a lovely reminder of Laura Bush every time they want to have a fancy dinner … In the tradition of many first ladies before her, Mrs. Bush chose official china – a beautiful pale green pattern upon which to serve state dinners as well as a smaller service adorned with trees and flowers for personal use by the first family. The price tag: $550,000. Who knew Laura Bush had such extravagant taste? (Granted it was for a total of 395 place settings, but still that’s more than $1,400 a piece!)
While extravagant for sure, it should be noted that since Lyndon B. Johnson was in office, the White House Historical Association, a privately funded group, has picked up the tab for the presidential china. So at least it’s not our tax dollars that are being served up to dignitaries and other VIPs from around the world … at least not in this instance.
The kicker to this whole story is that the Bush plates arrived at the White House just two weeks before the Bush family headed back to Texas. They never even got to use them! Instead, they are left for the Obamas to use and enjoy.
Let’s just hope Michelle likes Laura’s taste … and that she and Barack don’t like to throw things when they argue.