She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.
This quotation appears in Chapter 4, during Obinze and Ifemelu’s initial flirtation. This feeling of contentment that Ifemelu has with Obinze sets up the feeling Ifemelu misses throughout her time as an immigrant in America. The word “ease” has particular importance because it highlights how with Obinze, Ifemelu does not need to make an effort to change herself. Especially early on in her immigration, Ifemelu believes she must change herself to succeed, often leading to self-doubt and insecurity. Because of her student visa, she must literally pretend to be someone else in order to work, and when she fails to get a job, she blames herself. Cristina Tomas’s condescension leads her to change her accent. Blaine makes her believe she needs to be a better person, causing her to change her eating habits and her blogging style. This ease—and her loss of it—emphasizes why Obinze is so important to Ifemelu and the high stakes resting on their reunion.