After months of recommendations, I finally checked out the Hamilton soundtrack. I remember the first time I listened to it during April vacation, waiting for our basement furniture to be delivered. Even though it was background music as I completed a bunch of other tasks, I kept stopping to check the names of songs and listen to lyrics more closely. Before long, I was listening to Hamilton while jogging on the treadmill, slowing my pace (even more than usual) to repeat verses or to look up the authenticity of facts. (It turns out the Martha Washington did name a cat after him!) I continued to listen to Hamilton during my “runs,” pushing myself to maintain pace for an entire song.
Fast forward a few months. I decided to work as a facilitator for a week in California, teaching a new cohort a learning platform my school adopted the previous school year. I was nervous for numerous reasons. I was going to be away from my family and on the other side of the country by myself. I was nervous about teaching other teachers. (Impostor syndrome was alive and well that week.) Each night, after teaching a group of teachers and administrators all day, I would head over to the walking path across the street from my hotel and try my best to run. Hamilton was my soundtrack. Each night, while setting goals to run to certain landmarks, I memorized the lyrics to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play. While I should’ve taken this time to explore San Francisco and neighboring Burlingame, I instead spent my evenings walking along the bay and watching airplanes. (My favorite path here overlooks Narragansett Bay and is about a mile from the airport. Yes, I flew 3,000 miles to do exactly what I do at home.)
Hamilton represented a time in which I truly stepped out of my comfort zone, both personally and professionally. When I hear certain lyrics, I can remember exactly where I was on the running path when I understood them for the first time. I remember singing the lyrics loudly, not caring who heard me because I was far away from everyone I knew.
The following spring, I joined the Beginner’s Running Group. Again, I was out of my comfort zone. By this time, the Hamilton Mixtape was released. I listened to it throughout my training, taking solace during those first four-minute intervals that
“I only had to run through one song.” Looking back, I can see my progress. As someone who can run for three miles without stopping, I love remembering when four minutes intimidated me. I listened to the Mixtape during the final 5k and met my goal time.
Again, Hamilton got me through a time in which I stepped out of my comfort zone. It got me through two times in my life in which I was struggling to do something to better myself. With my husband’s blessing, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase tickets. (It was a lot of money to spend without at least a heads up.) I had tickets to a matinee almost a year away. We reserved train tickets to make it easier to get to the city without worrying about traffic and parking.
The day finally arrived! We had to be at the train station before seven. Because we had a few hours before the show, we visited the Empire State Building. My husband had never been to the top. It was fun to be touristy. The view from the top was amazing!
Finally, it was time for the show. We had to wait outside in the drizzling rain while I worried that something would go wrong. Did I mention we had third-row seats? The tickets gods were truly watching over me! The show was better than I could have imagined. Usually at a show, either a theatrical or concert show, I wish for the moment for the show to me a memory. Hamilton was different; it flew by and I was so sad when it was over.
“Aaron Burr started off a little stiff, but I warmed up to him.”
“I liked this George Washington better than the original. He played it darker.”
“Did you notice that Lafayette lost his French accent a few times when he was rapping? It must be so difficult to do both characters.”
“It’s funny that Hamilton had a beard here. The play mentions that he couldn’t grow facial hair.”
“One of the ensemble players kept staring me down while dancing. It took a few times before I realized I was his driste.”
These interruptions are completely acceptable in any conversation.
It was a long, but amazing day. I still can’t believe I was able to watch this play that has been the soundtrack to me changing my life in many ways. This past year reminds me that I can change things that need to be changed. For anything major to change, I need to step outside of my comfort zone. I need to take risks and challenge myself.