It's been a full year since I first heard the beginning of "Alexander Hamilton", 200 days since I had the incomparable chance to see the thing live. A love letter to the show:
Last year, my siblings and I were taking our mother to Chicago for her fiftieth birthday. This meant a lot of car time for me - the three-hour drive to my hometown, four hours to Chicago, four hours back, wrapping up with another three hours back to my apartment. So, that morning at work, I did the thing I had been putting off for months, despite hype and good reviews: I downloaded the Hamilton soundtrack on Google Play. A few hours later, I'm in my car, sobbing as Hamilton talks about a legacy, moments before his death. For the first time, I'm understanding those people who want to relive a 'first time' experience. That idiot crying in the Prius had no idea what was in store for her.
The soundtrack completely ruined my holiday at home as I spent most of the time finding Ham4Ham videos online, learning more about the cast and crew. I became obsessed - picking up the year-end 'best of 2015' magazines, all of which featured Hamilton in some way, and the Chernow biography as soon as I was in a town with a Barnes and Noble. The musical also transformed my blog, kicked off just a few weeks earlier, into an ode to the show. It was supposed to be about a woman in the engineering field! Seriously, I have eight posts that are entirely devoted to the subject, starting with my first reaction to the soundtrack (ah, I was so naive) to my experience at the actual show (that got three entire posts).
All I did was spend twenty bucks on an album on my phone, on a whim, so I would have something to listen to on my ride home and it's had a major impact on my life. That seems like a serious hyperbole, but when I look back on the past year, it's true.
First, it finally got me to NYC. The girl who has been to a dozen major cities in the States, who has gotten to see a major chunk of Europe, took thirty friggin' years to get NYC. Initially, I was just going to stop over for a few days on my way to my sister's college graduation, stay in the city for a night or two and see the show, then go on to St. Louis. Instead, I spent a full week there. It was everything I wanted and more.
Second, it encouraged me to write more and be more creative, here and in other places. During the 2008 campaign, then-candidate Obama said...
One of the many things that impresses me about Hamilton -it's all from an idea a guy had on a beach in 2008. This success - the hundreds of people the show has employed, the thousands who have come to love it - all starts with this idea. This idea started it and the perseverance of the just-right team of collaborators were able to turn that into a powerful juggernaut, picking up a Pulitzer and changing the face of our currency along the way. The show and its success are an overwhelming demonstration of what one passionate voice can accomplish, not to mention the story of the what the guy himself accomplished.
Since graduating college a few years ago, I've forgotten that. As one lone engineer at a large company, it often doesn't seem like one person can bring about change, can have an impact. But then I heard the Hamilton soundtrack for the first time and was reminded of Hamilton's own impact on our nation, the reverberations we still experience today. The show and its story inspired and motivated me. For the first time since freshman year of college, I started thinking about what my voice could do, what career I could fall in love with.
When my assignment in Germany is over, I'll be looking for the next step in my career and I know that I won't be satisfied until I find that thing I can fall in love with. For a role where I can impact change and improve the lives of others. To change the room, the city, the state, as Hamilton and Miranda and crew have deftly done here. I may not be able to create something as beautiful and universally adored as this wonderful musical, but I can find something I'm passionate about, something that grabs me by the neck and won't let go.
Finally, it's been a major source of comfort while I'm living in a foreign country. Overwhelmed by the language and accents you don't understand? Take a break, put in earplugs, and listen to "My Shot" for the fiftieth time. Feeling lonely? Don't worry, Lin-Manuel's on Twitter wishing you a good morning. Even before I bought tickets to see the show in May, I felt connected to the cast and crew via social media, really a part of a fandom for the first time. I feel like I'm part of one, big global family, a feeling I've never experienced in any other fandom (including Harry Potter and Buffy, it's serious).
One more note: this weekend, I went to London and got to see the site of the next production! While there, I saw Wicked, just around the corner from Ham's new home. It's a city that embraces theater and I can't wait to see Miranda's masterpiece the next time I'm in London!