Years ago, I heard all about this crazy awesome broadway show about history. There was some weird controversy about immigrants and the VP at the time. That was really when Hamilton came on my radar. Living in the Southeast with someone who despises musicals, it never occurred to me that I would even like it. I thought I was married to an apolitical person, but it was right around this time I started to see the conservative coming out. At first I didn’t mind, but ultimately he would become radicalized and cold, which changed the course of our marriage. During the early weeks of the pandemic, the radicalization was obvious and the constant forced together time showed me that we could not go on together. It was during this time that I started rediscovering myself and what I liked apart from this person.
I remember when they announced that the Hamilton recording would be released early on Disney+ in July as a “gift” to the world. I really wanted to watch it. My very good friend (who I was secretly in love with) and I decided to watch it together, but apart. Separated by 950 miles and multiple states, we hit the play button at the same time. And the rest is history…
The music, the acting, the visual treat of it all…I loved it from the minute I started watching it. I’m pretty sure my mouth was wide open most of my first viewing. There was something familiar about several of the actors, but I couldn’t put it all together initially. Anthony Ramos, Leslie Odom Jr, Daveed Diggs…I’d seen those three somewhere. I started researching all of them. A Star is Born for Anthony Ramos, Law and Order SVU for the other two. And Lin-Manuel Miranda…I saw him in House years before he was even writing Hamilton. He was House’s crazy roommate in rehab in the season I didn’t really like. But he rapped more than once on the show…WOW, he was a genius. How did it take me so long to figure all this out?
I became obsessed with the music, downloading the album and listening to it all of the time. It was just so awesome and brilliant. I know it took Lin seven years to complete it, but wow. He’s a musical genius!!
What struck me the most as I read up on all things Hamilton was that all the parts were played by people of all different races. It didn’t even cross my mind to think about how these were all white dudes in real life. It just seemed brilliant to put together a multinational cast like this. But the more I read, the more I realized how significant it really was. And Lin wrote it this way, with the intent to give everyone a chance to play major roles that had been traditionally reserved for white people. And that continues to this day, on broadway and in the touring casts. And then it opened the door for more theatre opportunities for all races. I saw an almost entire Black cast for Ain’t Too Proud to Beg about the Temptations. It was one of the best musicals I have ever seen. The audience had a blast because their voices were incredible, the story was so compelling, and it was about a group that spans decades. It was way sad at the end when they talked about the original members who died in tragic ways. But overall, it was just incredible and it went by too fast. I’d definitely go see it again.
Back to Hamilton and my very good friend, though. While watching it that very first time, I really could feel Hamilton’s pain at never being able to get with Angelica despite the strong feelings they had for each other. My friend and I had been talking every day since January. Her husband had died on Christmas Eve in 2019 and she was struggling so much. I was crushed under my sadness over the realization that my marriage was going to end and mental health struggles I’d been ignoring for years. Add in the pandemic and we had nothing but time to talk and support each other. I found myself telling her things I had never told anyone. We just kept getting closer and closer, even though we’d been friends on social media for years at that point. And we went to college together way back when and were friends back then too.
I didn’t want to tell her my feelings because I wasn’t clear from my marriage yet and I didn’t want to lead her on or add drama to her drama-free life. But my feelings were growing and it was making me sad that I might never have the chance to experience love with someone who was so good to me. It seemed like maybe she liked me too, but we both focused on being the very best friend we could be so that we didn’t risk losing our friendship. But Hamilton cracked that shell open. I had tears running down my face when I realized how much he wanted Angelica and settled for Eliza. I felt trapped like that too. And all of that made me realize that I couldn’t go on much longer without telling her how I felt.
After watching it, we talked for a little bit. I was tired and about ready to say goodnight and get to sleep. And then she said something that made me think that we both felt the exact same way. I decided to just throw caution to the wind and tell her how I felt. And she told me she did feel the exact same way. It was truly the best day of my life.
That feels so long ago now. My now ex was pretty awesome about all of it and although divorce wasn’t fun for either of us, we agreed that we just didn’t work anymore and hadn’t for a long time. It was sad in a way, but the beginning of a much better life for both of us. It removed the pressure on us to keep trying at something that was never going to work. He was aware that I had struggled with gender dysphoria but just sort of looked the other way when I shoved it back down. But we both knew it was in there, fighting back.
So…all of that backstory relates to today, where my wife (and the former friend!) and I got tickets to see Hamilton in December. We listen to it when we drive long distances, and we watch the recording every few months and relive that day in July 2020 when we finally figured out that we felt the same way about each other. We have wanted to see it since then and now we can look forward to seeing it in person!!