Marching to the Beat of the Drum… My Hamilton Story


Marching to the Beat of the Drum… My Hamilton Story

Ending 2017 with a new beat.

Since 2015 my friend Amber kept telling how imperative it was for me to go see the play, “Hamilton.”

She ranted and raved that the cast and crew were magnificent and how Lin-Manuel Miranda is brilliant along with the whole production.  She literally saw it a half dozen times.

Amber with an original Hamilton Star in NYC

For two years I blocked out any notion of attending such a thing. I did not read anything related to the hype of Hamilton because I knew that it was going to be too painful to go to see any show without Justin who loved all things related to the theatre—the set designs, acting, songs, dancing and reading the PlayBills. I had to protect myself and march to the beat of my own drum so to speak. Then she sent me lyrics to ” Quiet Uptown” When I listened I felt such a connection to it because the song depicted the aftermath of Hamilton and his wife losing their only son. I had no idea. It was our reality. I listened to it often.
because “ SPOILER ALERT” Alexander Hamilton and his wife lost their only son too… Need I say more?

“It’s Quiet Uptown”

[Angelica:]
There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down

[Angelica/Ensemble:]
The Hamiltons move uptown
And learn to live with the unimaginable

[Hamilton:]
I spend hours in the garden
I walk alone to the store
And it’s quiet uptown
I never liked the quiet before
I take the children to church on Sunday
A sign of the cross at the door
And I pray
That never used to happen before

[Angelica and women:]
If you see him in the street, walking by
Himself, talking to himself, have pity

[Hamilton:]
Philip, you would like it uptown
It’s quiet uptown

[Angelica and women:]
He is working through the unimaginable

[All men (except Hamilton):]
His hair has gone grey. He passes every day
They say he walks the length of the city

[Hamilton:]
You knock me out, I fall apart

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
Can you imagine?

[Hamilton:]
Look at where we are
Look at where we started
I know I don’t deserve you, Eliza
But hear me out. That would be enough
If I could spare his life
If I could trade his life for mine
He’d be standing here right now
And you would smile, and that would be enough
I don’t pretend to know
The challenges we’re facing
I know there’s no replacing what we’ve lost
And you need time
But I’m not afraid
I know who I married
Just let me stay here by your side
That would be enough

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
If you see him on the street, walking by her
Side, talking by her side, have pity

[Hamilton:]
Eliza, do you like it uptown? It’s quiet uptown

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
He is trying to do the unimaginable
See them walking in the park, long after dark
Taking in the sights of the city

[Hamilton:]
Look around, look around, Eliza

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
They are trying to do the unimaginable

[Angelica:]
There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name
We push away what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable
They are standing in the garden
Alexander by Eliza’s side
She takes his hand

[Eliza:]
It’s quiet uptown

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
Forgiveness. Can you imagine?
Forgiveness. Can you imagine?
If you see him on the street, walking by her
Side, talking by her side, have pity
They are going through the unimaginable

Darrell works often in his butterfly garden for release and for dealing with our unimaginable loss.

A few years later in 2017 something finally hit me. When Darrell and I were discussing what to get Justin’s best friend aka “Twin” Chanell for her upcoming gift from graduating from the University of Michigan.

Justin and Chanell Twin Day at School 2012

Hamilton seemed like the perfect gift. We always like to give gifts that are memorable, usable and practical. She and Justin often sang through their homework nightly via Skype, they were in choir together, loved Beyonce and theatre. The last show they saw together was “Memphis” the Musical. The feeling I had inside was that it was ok to go and share the stage with Chanell and I would survive seeing it. I said to myself: You can do this!!  Justin would want this. He would say: “Mom you got this!”

Justin and his BF Chanell pose with the HW Diversity Award

In March I was fortunate to I was able to snatch up tickets for face value. I met Chanell for lunch after she graduated, I gave her an envelope. When she opened up the card her facial expression was priceless. I thought I was looking at Justin. She put her hand on her face, and ecstatically said: “ How did you get these tickets? OMG Center Orchestra? She had to take a picture to share with her close friends. She was so animated. She was overjoyed. She responded the way I thought Justin would have. It made me feel good.

Showtime was 6 months later. We got there early to savor the moment. Chanell was pinching me throughout, mouthing some of the songs and shaking her head. The twin effect was really working her. I thought that I was next to Justin for a few minutes.


Her hands went up in the air on the song “Just Say No” She knew all the words to every song!!!
:

“ Just say No…
There’s nothing like summer in the city
Someone under stress meets someone looking pretty
There’s trouble in the air, you can smell it
And Alexander’s by himself, I’ll let him tell it

I hadn’t slept in a week
I was weak, I was awake
You never seen a bastard orphan more in need of a break
Longing for Angelica
Missing my wife
That’s when Miss Maria Reynolds walked into my life, she said

I know you are a man of honor
I’m so sorry to bother you at home
But I don’t know where to go, and I came here all alone

She said

My husband’s doin’ me wrong
Beatin’ me, cheatin’ me, mistreatin’ me
Suddenly he’s up and gone
I don’t have the means to go on

So I offered her a loan, I offered to walk her home, she said

You’re too kind, sir

I gave her thirty bucks that I had socked away
She lived a block away, she said

This one’s mine, sir

Then I said, well, I should head back home
She turned red, she led me to her bed
Let her legs spread and said

StayHey

Hey

Hey

That’s when I began to pray
Lord, show me how to say no to this
I don’t know how to say no to this

But my God, she looks so helpless
And her body’s saying, hell, yes

Whoa

No, show me how to say no to this

I don’t know how to say no to this

In my mind, I’m tryin’ to go (go, go, go)

Then her mouth is on mine, and I don’t say

No, no (say no to this)
No, no (say no to this)
No, no (say no to this)
No, no (say no to this)

Like most, we thought the show was absolutely fabulous. The final song will be Darrell and my guide as we will always celebrate and remember Justin in all things that we do.

“ Who lives who dies who tells your story”
[WASHINGTON]
Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control:

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]
Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story?

It was close to midnight when we started making our way down the streets of Hollywood to our cars. We were yacking back and forth sharing our favorite songs.

All of the sudden, a random stranger wearing all black, a baseball cap and a backpack walking just a few steps in front of us turned his head and asked: “ Did you just see Hamilton?” Hesitantly, I said Yes. Did you? He turns around and shows this badge hanging around his neck and said: YES. I’M THE DRUMMER FOR THE SHOW. I thought for a minute, he is no stranger to me!! (lol) More tickets!!

 

We stopped in our tracks and I started asking a million questions. My first one, of course, was: “ Can you get me more tickets?” He laughed and said: You and everyone else!” Then I said: “Where did you learn how to play the drums?” He said he learned everything in the Public Schools of Oakland California. He raved about his mentors and teachers that he had. I said OMG, I’m from San Francisco. What schools did you go to? He told me that he was in the San Francisco Production of Hamilton too? I was amazed. As I said, I had a plate load of questions. What’s your call time? Do you sit in the pit? Where do you guys live? He said his drum set is so big, he has a room all to himself. I told him I was so glad that he was able to make a living out of the performing arts and beat to the rhythm of is own drums.!!!

He proceeds to tell us that he and his wife decided to get a place down here. They fell in love with a house that only had one open house. His wife wrote the owners a note. They were able to get it. When he told me the name of the city he lived I said OMG that is where I live. I then asked, What street?  When he responded I said OMG, OMG that street is just a few blocks from my house!!!!!!! And guess what, the name of his street means butterfly …

I then told him about Justin our butterfly the swimmer and his love for the visual and performing arts, how he saw Lion King 5 times and Wicked 5 times and Memphis 2 times, his connection to Chanell and how hard it was coming to this play because he would have loved all things about it. He paused and said: That is utterly sad about your son. I don’t know what to say. So glad you were able to come find some peace in this production!!! Let’s get together for breakfast soon.” He posed for a picture. I said, don’t forget to be sure to let me know if you ever have extra tickets. We all laughed and hugged each other.  Chanell and I were speechless. We just shook our head.

 

What are the chances that we meet the Hamilton orchestra drummer who was certainly playing that funky music with every beat of his drum? It was as if Justin was part of the plan. Timing is everything.  As we end 2017 I guess I have a little peace of mind as we venture into 2018 always Justin’s Mom #JC4WPMOM

 

I can’t make this stuff up!!  Just ask Chanell!!

Thanks Amber for insisting and giving me a little joy in this life as both of us know for sure it can change fast!!! Happy Birthday to you too!!

 

 

7 thoughts on “Marching to the Beat of the Drum… My Hamilton Story”

  1. That is such a beautiful story Susan, I read it at the edge of my seat and listened to every song you posted, thank you!! I also love Hamilton but have not see it, would love to some day! It is so magnificent that Justin flies into your life so often in these ways – you know he would be excited beyond belief to see the show and he WAS there with you and his BFF! XOXO Lisa

  2. Incredible!!!! Your Justin has such a direct connection to you, constantly reminding you of the light that will always connect your souls. Happy New Year, Susan!

  3. Simply a beautiful story, one with more than a coincidental, spiritual connection involving Justin, you, Chanel and the Hamilton drummer who lives on Butterfly Street.

    May 2018 bring you peace and happiness.

  4. Susan, thanks again for sharing another amazing story. I was not fortunate to see Hamilton, but I continue to hear about its greatness. I have a friend whose daughter won two tickets in a lottery. How lucky can one get! I am nearly finished reading the novel, The Hamilton Affair. I have not yet started reading the book, Hamilton.
    I hope 2018 will be special in every way
    Always love, Auntie

  5. No, we can’t make this stuff up! What an amazing
    First email to receive on New Year’s Day!
    Yet another beautiful story….unreal!
    2018 here we come, and Justin, please continue
    To shine your face upon us:))
    Always,
    Lynette

  6. WOW! An amazing story!! So glad you finally saw Hamilton, as you will carry these songs with you always, just as you know Justin would have. Mariposas everywhere ❤️

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