GUYS. I WENT TO HAMILTON TODAY.
I'm actually kind of weirded out, because I didn't have any feelings today. I think it's because I've been having issues with my depression (I can assure you that it was totally better today), and I think that's why I had issues registering what was going on. But seriously, I just had this constant feeling of euphoria in my stomach the entire time.
For those of you who haven't been clued in on the entire journey, I'll start from the beginning.
I've wanted to see Hamilton since last October, when my mom asked me what I wanted to do for my sixteenth birthday. I thought it was so cool that there was a rap musical on Broadway, and even better, that the cast was made up of all POC (with the exception of the actor who plays King George and one or two members of the ensemble.) It was super difficult to find tickets back then.
Anyway, let's flashforward to May. The show released a new round of tickets, and I didn't make it fast enough. The only ones available were resale, and I couldn't afford any of them (the lowest price was 800 dollars and on Ticketmaster, there's not always the option to just buy one ticket.) I was pretty bummed, especially since my school went on a gigantic field trip to see Hamilton back in March.
The reason why I didn't get to go is because I wasn't old enough. The school board only approved it for juniors and seniors, plus 60 faculty members. It was this huge thing - 11 coach busses, they met the cast after the show, the other newspaper editors got to go backstage and ask questions. I'm still pretty bitter about it, honestly, because it sounds so awesome and I didn't get to go. Those kids didn't pay anything, while my ticket cost 1200+ and NO ONE LET ME BACKSTAGE.
But I digress.
I started a GoFundMe, at the suggestion of my lovely agent Emily, and we called the whole thing #Ham4Cam. I didn't think that I would be able to go, honestly. I wanted to write this blog post for all of you who donated and spread the word, because you are the reason why I got to go. Super shoutout to my badass anonymous donor who got me to my goal! I screamed when I found out that I was going to go to Hamilton, after fundraising for only 21 days.
Since resale tickets suck, my mom and I actually had to pay over a hundred dollars out of pocket for some "handling" fee that Ticketmaster charges. But other than that, I got to go to Hamilton for free. I wouldn't have been able to do it if it weren't for you guys.
I got there early, and was super surprised that I could see from up so high. I sat next to a lovely young lady who was just as excited as me, and had also come alone. It was great having someone to cry/scream with every few seconds. There were many members of the original cast: Lin-Manuel (!!!), Daveed Diggs, Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Okieriete Onaodowan, and Anthony Ramos were all there. They weren't the only ones who were amazing - everyone was, including the understudies and ensemble. There was so much going on that I didn't know where to look.
I felt like a little kid going to Disney World for the first time after marathoning the movies.
There were times where I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I just felt it in my stomach and my chest and I couldn't believe how absolutely real it was. I couldn't believe that this was the musical I'd listened to countless times before, in front of me, with its amazing cast and choreography and the stage and everything. It was so difficult to remember everything that I wanted to, but here are a few key points:
-Thank God for Daveed. We don't deserve him. He made me laugh so much.
-My Schuyler Sisters! They honestly did act like sisters, which I loved so much. During their first song, I almost jumped out of my seat. It was just so perfect that I couldn't handle it.
-I didn't really react to the show until Yorktown. Well, that's not entirely accurate. You see, I was laughing and clapping and singing along with everyone else. I was just in awe, and couldn't really register anything until HERCULES MULLIGAN. I started screaming then, and couldn't stop laughing. It felt like the end of a movie, where you know that all of the horrible stuff is over and you get to live in happiness forever.
-Anthony Ramos pretending to be nine. Enough said.
-Everyone who worked in the theater was really nice. I've been to lots of other shows before, but have never really interacted with anyone. Maybe it was because I was by myself this time, but I definitely noticed how awesome they were, especially the ushers.
-Each song got, like, at least two minutes worth of clapping. Except for when the transitions were so fast that you didn't get any time to clap.
I don't know how else to describe the show except for pure magic. That's what it felt like, honestly. I had a vague idea of what it would be like in my head, but seeing it acted out with just so much behind it was beautiful. I was actually upset that I didn't cry at the end, but all of my feelings just felt stuck inside of me.
I really wish that I could've spoken to members of the cast, the pit, backstage, anyone, just to tell them how awesome the show was. And I know it wasn't just the cast (even if they were so goddamn amazing), because seeing it live made it ten times more magical. Not even better. It just made me want to soak it all in and try to remember it for as long as possible.
I think the best part of the show wasn't how amazing it was. It's that it was so amazing while almost everyone I looked at was a POC. It's like, visual proof that POC are amazing and can handle themselves and make creative things. It's what POC have been trying to say for years, and the long line and screaming crowd just proved it to be true.
I just kept staring at Lin and wondering how it feels to look at something so absolutely fantastic, so breathtaking, so stunning, that it took sucked of my emotions away for two hours and forty five minutes. I'm sorry that I can't articulate the feeling further, but I was just looking at him and I was so thankful for this. That he fought through all of the difficult moments in his life, as a person and as a writer, and told this story.
That I was able to see it.
I can't imagine that he will ever know how much this meant to me, how much it has inspired me, and I probably won't even be part of his story. But he is part of mine, a large part, especially since he has proved to me that my background and appearance and my life will all help me break barriers and records and be extraordinary.
I heard so much of myself in his lyrics, from "I've imagined death so much it feels more like a memory" to "There's a million things I haven't done, just you wait."
Even though I haven't been suicidal in a long while, I haven't loved life in almost as long. It feels like something I have to struggle through in hopes that it might someday get better. Today, at least, I felt like life could be amazing. I'm so glad that I'm alive right now, that I'm alive during the same time that Hamilton is on Broadway and speaking to people, and that I got to experience this.
I won't always remember the show, but I'll remember how much it empowered me. I hope that one day I can reference it in a speech.
Dying is easy, but living is so much harder. But I am the one thing in life I can control, and I know that I am an original. I'm young, scrappy, and hungry and I'm not throwing away my shot because I know history has it's eyes on me.
Guys, I am so so lucky to be alive right now.