The Story of Tonight: Freezing Walks & Hamilton on Broadway

We awoke on Saturday morning to gray skies with freezing rain and lots of wind. The perfect kind of day to sleep in and be lazy. Hearing the wind howling and the frozen rain drops hitting the windows was like a lullaby, encouraging us to stay in bed. Olivia’s cats, Cappuccino and Marbles, however, had other ideas, so before long we were up and slowly getting a start to the day. With only two things on our agenda, we weren’t in any kind of rush.

We made our way to the corner diner for a delicious, greasy breakfast late in the morning. When we’d finished, the wind was still blowing sleet all around outside the windows, and we had to angle our umbrellas just right lest the wind turn them inside out or carry them right out of our hands. It was cold and wet, but we were on a mission. For several minutes as we walked I was so focused on not losing my umbrella or getting pelted in the face with ice-rain bullets that I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. When we entered a more sheltered area I looked up to discover we were walking through the gorgeous campus of The City College of New York. Established in the mid 19th Century as the first free public school for higher education in the U.S., The City College campus is filled with old, stone buildings that are absolutely stunning. Given our destination, it felt appropriate to be passing though the architecturally impressive institution of higher education.

We were on our way to the former home of Founding Father, Revolutionary soldier, 1st U.S. Treasury Secretary, ladies man, and posthumous pop culture icon, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton Grange National Memorial, while not sitting in its original location, still resides on a piece of the original 32 acre plot Alexander purchased in 1801 to be his family’s country estate, and I couldn’t wait to see it with my own eyes!

I’d been devouring books on American historical figures for years. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson; the list goes on. So when Hamilton The Musical was released on Disney+ my brother invited me over to watch it, knowing it was right up my alley. My brother now regrets that day, cause he created a monster. My mind was blown. It’s absolutely brilliant! Lin Manuel Miranda is so talented I can’t even believe he’s human.

I became instantly obsessed with all things Hamilton. I’ve watched the musical at least 25 times, listen to the soundtrack in my car constantly, and immediately devoured Ron Chernow’s book, Alexander Hamilton, which the musical is based on. A little more than a year later and there I was, walking up to the home he built for his beloved family.

Hamilton Grange National Memorial wasn’t open on this blustery day, which we knew before we left. Instead of going inside we walked around the outside, gazing up at the neoclassical yellow house and trying to imagine Eliza sipping tea on the porch while the kids ran around the yard, and Alexander sat at the desk in his study, writing letters as always. However, the picture in my mind was not historically accurate, as I was picturing Lin Manuel Miranda and Phillipa Soo instead of the actual Alexander and Eliza.

With the freezing rain and wind not letting up, we began to make our way back to Olivia’s apartment. That evening would be the grand finale of our Little Ladycation, but for the remainder of the afternoon Liv and I would veg-out on her couch watching Hulu. Not every moment of a trip needs to be filled with activity. Liv and I have always loved watching shows together, especially biopics. It was with Olivia that I watched Medici: Masters of Florence, and The Tudors. We were both obsessed with Game of Thrones during it’s reign as TV’s top program, and if it was released during COVID, Liv and I probably watched it together. So there we were, another Saturday with mother and daughter lounging on the couch, laughing and giving commentary as we watched the biopic about fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, staring Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews (who will always be Sayid from LOST to me).

As the afternoon wore on we slowly started getting ourselves ready for dinner. We had reservations at Glass House Tavern near Times Square that evening before the main event. Mercifully, the rain stopped before we left Liv’s apartment and headed for the subway station. However, the wind had not died down, and it was still freezing cold. We made it to Midtown, emerged from the subway station, and began briskly walking towards the restaurant.

Something I found particularly magical about New York on this trip is that, since my last visit when Liv turned 16, the city had legalized cannabis. Not only could it be purchased in NYC, it could be smoked openly. So, when I saw a weed truck (like an ice cream truck for stoners) I couldn’t resist. I purchased the most ridiculously expensive joint I’ve ever purchased, and looked forward to smoking it for dessert.

Glass House Tavern was excellent. I ordered the filet mignon, one of my favorite meals, and it was cooked to perfection. Our cocktails were so good we had to drink more than one (oh darn), and the waiters were delightful. We had such a nice time, with delicious food and tasty cocktails, and were full and ready to rap our way through the next event, Hamilton on Broadway, when we finally paid our tab and headed towards the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Once we got outside I found a corner to shelter in long enough to light my joint, and we began making our way to the Theatre. Intellectually I knew smoking the joint as I walked through Times Square was totally legal, but there was a part of me that felt like I was going to be thrown in the paddy wagon and hauled off to jail. When we passed by a New York City police officer who didn’t even flinch as I exhaled a giant plume of Pineapple Express in his general direction I wondered if he’d had COVID and had lost his sense of smell. I’m just so used to hiding my cannabis use that it felt weird to be smoking it so openly and publicly. But I had the thought, I could get used to this.

We arrived at the Theatre before they’d opened the doors, and had to stand outside shivering with the other attendees until they let us in. It was so cold that by the time they opened up everyone was practically running inside. We stopped and bought “Hamiltinis” and a shot glass, then made our way inside the theatre to our seats.

I was beside myself. We both loved Hamilton, and neither of us had seen it live yet, and there we were staring at the stage I knew so well from watching it on Disney+. By the time the stage lights turned up and the house lights went down I was ready to burst. Olivia had told me ahead of time not to rap along to the show, but that was simply not a level of self-control I was capable of exercising, and I was pleased to discover I wasn’t the only one. It was very clear who had and hadn’t seen the show previously, cause half the audience was jamming just as hard as I was–including my daughter, who was singing along and chair-dancing right beside me.

The original cast is long gone, and I could sit here and review the differences between the casts, and compare the two, but that would be unfair. The bottom line is that every single person in that performance is more talented than I could ever hope to be, and they were all incredible. It was the same show I knew and loved, but they each made their characters their own in some small way, so it was like seeing it again for the first time. Magic.

Seeing it live was so different from watching it on TV. Instead of my eyes focusing on whatever the camera was focusing on in any particular scene, I was able to see the whole stage. I could watch the overall performance or hone in on some aspect I hadn’t seen before, but wherever I was looking, I was singing and chair-dancing and having the time of my life! By the time we left we were glowing. All I wanted to do was grab a hot dog from a vendor and watch it again. Instead, we essentially ran to the subway, no stopping for hot dogs which I regretted later, to get back to Liv’s apartment before we froze to death.

What an incredible weekend with my beautiful daughter! I would cry as I drove away the next morning, struggling with my new role as mom to an adult daughter who no longer needed her mama in the same way she once did. The truth was that I missed the living shit out of her, and seeing her waving in my rearview mirror was almost unbearable. I pulled myself together as I crossed the George Washington (“Here comes the General!”) Bridge, laughing when I saw the text she’d sent shortly after I departed, telling me I damn well better have been listening to Hamilton as I drove (of course I was). No matter how proud of and amazed by my kids as I am, there’s a part of me that will always see them as my babies and want to scoop them up and keep them with me and safe forever. It may as well have been a toddler in pigtails in my rearview mirror waving. I suspect those of you with kiddos of your own can relate to that.

Thanks for joining Olivia and me on our Little Ladycation! I hope you enjoyed the journey with us. Come back again for the latest tips, trips and tales, and until then, stay chill and keep hiking, my friends!


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