The Time I Almost Didn’t See Hamilton on Broadway


Spring 2016: Hamilton? That Broadway musical phenomenon about the first Secretary of the Treasury? Yeah, I guess I’ve heard of it.

Summer 2016: We sing along with Corden’s Broadway Carpool Karaoke before the Tony’s (which Ellie and I watch from beginning to end while the house sleeps). The Hamilton soundtrack is the music of our summer, accompanying every morning’s carpool to theatre camp. We listen to the songs intermixed with stories from the Audible reading of Hamilton: The Revolution for depth and context. We are obsessed, especially Ellie.

Even Jake starts rapping.

Daily Hamil-news, memes, Instagram posts, Pinterest boards. Our conversations start with an acknowledgment of our Hamilaria, “Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton…” We smile together and barely hold ourselves back from breaking into song when a woman at the store says her name is Angelica. I ask Ellie if she wants us to call her Eliza. She considers it.

June 23, 2016: I text Carrie while we’re talking about Ellie’s upcoming performance of The Tempest (and how she and I should attend next summer’s adult Shakespeare camp). Trying to get Ellie to NY before a lot of the Hamilton cast leave the show…but logistics are prohibitive.

We talk about going, but tickets are scarce and expensive, and I’m leading a retreat the days prior to the big show. After retreats, I’m practically a zombie and I’ve learned to put myself into seclusion to recharge. It’s the best thing I can do to keep myself sane and productive. I suggest it might be easier to buy 11 year old Ellie a Lamborghini than to see Hamilton on July 9. I put it out of my head…

Until Rafe and I start talking about it. The show is coming to Los Angeles in 2017. We can take her for her 13th birthday. But Lin-Manuel Miranda is developing the Chicago cast for that production, so maybe we’ll go sooner. The coin flip conversation of LA or Chicago is analyzed and discussed without a decision.

July 4th holiday weekend: car trips all over California give us miles to listen to the complete soundtrack together as a family, beginning to end, line by line and note by note. The Hamilaria epidemic has spread.

July 5, 2016: Rafe comes home. I need to talk to you about something. He’s serious.

He wants Ellie to see the show in New York on the 9th as an early celebration of her Bat Mitzvah. I cry, so touched by the gesture and how much it will mean to her. I know it’s best for him to take her. He’s a better traveler and I’ll be exhausted. Jake and I will enjoy a quiet weekend at home sharing the experience vicariously through texts and photos while recovering from the event. Jake tells him he’s a good dad and a good person for wanting to give this experience to Ellie. We find tickets and flights for them. When we share the surprise with Ellie, she lights up like fireworks.

July 7, 2016: The retreat changes the game when my role unexpectedly shifts from facilitator to participant. We are in the midst of an AMA session, Ask Me Anything. The organization’s leaders have given me a vision which this retreat will fulfill, and I’ve created an opportunity for the group to share stories as responses to anonymously submitted questions.

Storytelling builds leaders, and the ability to connect and relate to one another vulnerably builds bridges among and throughout this team. With new stories, they can work together towards new outcomes. They value equality and fairness; of course they want to include me in their process.

If you could change one thing about yourself, Karen, what would it be?

This group is courageous and it’s contagious. I’m serving people who are focused on a mission. They’ve opened their hearts to each other and to me. Earlier, I’ve explained that my approach to developing leaders involves identifying where they are and helping them expand into who they want to be. Now the tables have turned.

“I’d be more brave.” I explain how I see bravery, and how people assume I’m brave because I do crazy things like adopting horses and learning to surf in my 40s, but really there is a lot I choose to set aside regardless of what I want because I’m afraid.

That’s hard to admit.

(You want a revolution? I want a revelation.)

July 8, 2016: I wake up, not unlike other mornings, with a song from Hamilton in my head. Jefferson sings, “What did I miss?” and I’m telling Rafe what pictures I need him to take of Ellie in the Big Apple so I don’t miss out on the moment.

He’s already been up a while (he will never be satisfied). Do you want to go? Tickets to the show are still available, and we can catch a redeye after the retreat ends and be in New York in the morning. All of us together. An epic family weekend adventure. (History has its eyes on you.)

(Wait for it)

I’m acknowledged during this retreat for modeling healthy boundaries. Boundaries create safety, and when I’m asking people to take risks, I want them to do so feeling as secure as possible. We start and end on time. We stick with a program. It works. So saying no is not usually hard for me. (Say no to this.) But I don’t recognize how often in that NO, I’m saying NO to a part of me that wants to say YES.

How often does my automatic and immediate no stop me from an even better yes?

With new stories, we can work towards new outcomes.

(The world turns upside down.)

Yes. I do want to go. (I am not throwing away my shot.)

Yes. I will be tired. (Take a break.)

Yes. I want this. (She will never be satisfied.)


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