You Could Be Anywhere in the World Tonight…

Last we checked in, I was on my way to go see Hamilton in New York. Well, that happened and it was ridiculously good and now I have nothing left in this world to live for because I will never get to go to New York to see Hamilton again.

I think instead of crumbling into ennui due to my bleak Hamilton-less future, I shall instead regale you with the story of my trip.

A few months ago, Alex told me he wanted to get me and a friend tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway for my birthday because I love Hamilton so much. He told me he’d use his hotel points to get us a hotel and that I should proceed with making plans.

I told him that I never wanted him to tell me how much he spent on the tickets and got in touch with my friend Jen, who lives in Minnesota and talks ALL THE TIME on Facebook about how much she loves Hamilton. For those of you sad that I didn’t take you on this once-in-a-lifetime trip, let this be a lesson to you that you should be fanatical to the point of annoyance in any interest you share with me because apparently that is how I select companions for fun things.

Jen and I had tickets for Wednesday June 21, but headed up that Tuesday because you don’t want to have a travel delay and not make it to the show. That’s why I built in a 36-hour cushion for just such travel emergencies. You can’t take chances, you know.

I took the train and Jen took a plane and a train and we planned to meet at Penn Station at 11 am. I can’t speak to Jen’s long odyssey to get there, but I made Alex give me step by step instructions on how to arrive at the train, board the train, stash my luggage on the train, sit on the train, give my ticket to the train guy, not get off at any of the other two Penn Stations we passed prior to the correct one, how to identify the proper Penn Station, and how to detrain.

It’s hard to travel alone.

Fortunately, everything was as described and I successfully managed to get on the train and snag a window seat.

Photo of me in the window seat

Although I was not clever enough to get a non-sun side of the train. That wasn’t in Alex’s Power Point presentation.

Jen had an arduous trip, involving a 3 am wake-up, an airplane, Newark airport, and NJ train transit. I took a nap in my seat.

Photo of a train inside a station.

I’m autistic, so here’s a photo of a train I took as we pulled into the train station.

Jen was already there and we sent a series of texts saying things like, “I’m by the Dunkin’ Donuts,” and “I’m by the Dunkin’ Donuts too,” and then I twirled in confused circles for a while and finally we spotted each other and exchanged sweaty hugs and jumped up and down a little and then we went outside to get a cab to our hotel and I decided that New York is terrifying and I am a rube.

I wasn’t quite ready to start embarrassing Jen in public yet, so I don’t have any photos of this part of our trip. Instead I will insert this photo from slightly later in the day so you can get a mental picture of us.

Photo of me and Jen.

I’m lucky that Jen is a really easy person to hang out with because I am terrible at people-ing. She seems to be much better at it than I.

We checked into our hotel room, de-sweated a little, then headed out to what Jen described as “the best place on Earth,” aka Chelsea Market, land of any kind of food you want. It turns out that the kind of food WE wanted was pasta served IN A BOWL MADE OUT OF CHEESE.

Pasta in, well, a bowl made out of cheese.

I didn’t understand most of the menu but I knew almost all of the words in the description for the above dish, so I ordered it and the waiter was all, “That comes in a cheese basket,” and Jen was all, “Imma need a cheese basket too,” and it turns out that cheese baskets are delicious but incredibly filling and I still rue the fact that my basket defeated me and I couldn’t finish it.

Before we did that though, we wandered the entire Chelsea Market, including the best store, The Filling Station, that sold many flavors of, among other things, salt and vinegar. The last time Jen and I had been together in person, we had established that salt was a waaaay more valuable mineral than fancy gemstones, so she insisted we go there and taste all the salt.

It was amazing. I got a little overexcited and ended up with four containers of different flavored salt, a little salt spoon, and some pomegranate balsamic vinegar. Jen ended up with a burned tongue because I told her she should taste the spicy salt and she accidentally ate two grains instead of one, like the sign suggested she do, and thus began a string of questionable actions taken by Jen just because I told her to.

A wooden box with a Hamilton scene woodburned into it. There are four salt jars in it.

At the hotel, I put the salt in a little Hamilton-themed wooden crate that Jen had asked her dad to woodburn for me. The Schuyler sisters are on the other side. It is AMAZING. I think he could make a gajillion dollars selling them to the public.

I’d purchased the vinegar because Quinn has recently discovered balsamic vinegar. I told him over the phone that I’d bought it and he asked me to locate and buy “a salad kit” for him before I came home. I did not.

We were near the High Line, so we decided to go there. We walked to one end, then we turned around and walked all the way to the other end, with a middle stop to sit on a bench and people watch for a long time.

For those of you that don’t know, the High Line is an old elevated rail line that has been turned into green space full of people, kinda warm water fountains, vendors, and questionable art. Or at least art that is smarter than Jen and me combined.

Photo of a train track surrounded by plants.

People, water fountains, vendors, and art not pictured.

We also spent some time walking along the Hudson River, where we were reprimanded by a random lady for standing too close to the railing and scaring the seagulls away. Although I have a feeling that Hudson Bay seagulls aren’t afraid of a lot of things and certainly not me.

Tuesday was mostly a day that involved eating, resting, eating, resting, and then more eating. We rested at our hotel for a while before we headed out to the East Village to eat risotto for dinner because we apparently will travel long distances for delicious food, especially if it is risotto. And delicious it was, although instead of putting a bread basket on the table, the restaurant we went to put out a basket full of rice cakes. It was a little weird. I mean, I get that their thing was rice, what with the risotto and all, but still.

We were finishing our risotto and talking about how neither of us are night owl/party people so we were contemplating going back to the hotel when I said, “Or we could go find a place to eat dessert.” Well. It turns out that Jen and I agree on the need for dessert in our lives. I Yelped dessert bars and there were TWO within 0.2 miles of us. New York, man.

We chose the dessert tapas place where they recommended the three-tapas selection for two people. That’s obviously what we did because who are we to argue with a menu?

Three photos: 1. A little pan with a marshmallow cookie topped with pretzels, ice cream, and fudge; 2. a little pot filled with what looks like dirt and a little plant sprig next to a tiny pitcher of sauce and some red sorbet; 3. four squares of white dessert with chocolate crust next to strawberries and chocolate crumbles

I can’t even tell you how good this was. Each one was so creative and so delicious and I think I’m still full from eating all of it.

After that, we were done for the evening. We slept in the next morning, which was great and because it was Hamilton day, we didn’t want to do anything that would take too much time, so we decided to go to the Nintendo store and Rockefeller Center because our kids are nerds and we wanted to get them souvenirs.

First, however, we obviously needed to eat. It seems like everyone in New York is all, “Ramen is the greatest; you’ve gotta eat ramen,” so even though I was nervous about it, I agreed when Jen suggested we eat that for lunch. (We slept reeeeeaaaaaalllllly late.)

I could have told you it was not going to go great when we started eating and Jen immediately started talking about worms and then when I told her that I have a thing about worms and it was not helping with my noodle consumption, she made a smooth segue into talking about her dog’s “exploded anal gland” and I did a real-life, actual spit take.

It turns out that ramen, which is basically a big bowl of surprising ingredients all mixed in together in broth, is not really my thing. I was, however, glad that I tried it and comforted by the fact that we were following up by sharing a giant doughnut. Also the wall next to me was covered in a chain curtain and it was really fun to touch and stroke as I tried to not think I was eating worms.

We walked through Times Square first, stopping briefly at the Disney Store, where I encouraged Jen to make bad shopping decisions that I am sure made her daughter very happy. Then we went to the Nintendo store where we both made bad shopping decisions that made our children very happy.

2 photos: 1. Me standing next to a giant Donkey Kong statue 2. me croching next to a Pikachu sitting on a pokeball statue

Also both Jen and I did all kinds of embarrassing things at the Nintendo store, but only I have photographic evidence of it.

We wandered around Rockefeller Center after that. Jen was on the lookout for Rachel Maddow and I was trying to take a good photograph of a pigeon.

four photos of pigeons, none of which has the entire pigeon in frame.

Neither of us were successful.

We ended up sitting outside and talking for a really long time and doing some more people watching. It was really nice. Also, eventually I got the money shot of a pigeon.

Photo of a pigeon.

STRUT!

We browsed around some more and happened by the Swarovski crystal store where I found the nicest, most glittery place I’ve ever been and I made Jen sit there for a while so I could pet the crystal drape and sit in rainbows.

A couch covered in crystals in front of strings of large crystals.

Now I just have to convince Alex to build me a nook like this for my next birthday.

We decided to walk past the Richard Rogers Theatre on our way back to the hotel so we would know where it was. Obviously we walked down the street juuuuuuust as all the Wednesday matinees were letting out, so it was a total mob scene. Regardless, battling crowds did not dim our excitement.

Selfie of me in front of the theatre with Hamilton signs. I look excited.

I like that if you look closely at my sunglasses lens, you can see Jen.

Ticket time was 8 pm, so naturally Jen and I returned and were in line at 6:50. Because that’s how we roll.

Jen and I outside the theater in front of a Schuyler sisters mural

Look how bored and unexcited we look.

What time is it?

Screenshot of my Facebook post when I checked in to the theater and it says I am attending Hamilton. I've written "Fuck yeah, I am."

SHOWTIME!

They let us in the theater at 7:30 and told us to take an immediate right turn. Then the next usher we met said, “Oh let me take you down here,” and then there we were. At our seats. In the fifth row.

Jen and I in front of the stage in our seats

You know, NBD.

It was ridiculous. We spent some time texting Alex all-caps notes of excitement and thanks, including the following photo, which pretty much sums up how both of us were feeling.

Jen holding up her playbill. She looks delighted.

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

The seats around us started filling in and I breathed a sigh of relief as someone short sat in front of me. Shortly after Jen did the same. I’d been worrying about the person who was going to sit in front of me ever since Alex had bought the tickets. I was less worried about the person who was going to sit in front of Jen, but it’s nice that it worked out for her too.

The stage

I know everyone says it, but I think you’re required to say it if you go to the show, so here it is—the room where it happens.

Then we watched Hamilton.

As Gina said on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Hamilton. Was. Amazing! How is no one talking about this musical? It’s so good.”

The show was phenomenal, you guys. It really was. I know there is so much hype around it, but I had absolutely no disappointment. I thought all the actors did wonderful jobs and I liked how they put their spin on the roles. I was rapt the entire time. It was hilarious and inspirational and heartbreaking and I know just how lucky I am that I was able to go see it. This was my very first Broadway show and it was amazing. I have a million thoughts about the show and my poor family heard them all, but I don’t know that I can communicate how much I loved it in written words.

When we were walking out, Jen and I both agreed that we could sit down right there and then and watch it again without being the slightest bit bored. Both of us had apparently gotten a little sad a few songs from the end because we knew it was almost over. It was really incredible.

I didn’t imagine myself to be a “hang by the stage door” kind of gal, but it turns out that I am. On our way out, we passed the door and were all, well, me might as well wait. Then we made an immediate transition into ridiculous squealing fangirls. We saw a couple of the ensemble cast and then the actors who played Laurens/Phillip (below in the P. Ham hat OMG) and Lafayette/Jefferson. They were both so nice and wonderful and didn’t even make fun of us for our ridiculous squealy, grinning selves.

two photos: 1. Me and Jen with the actor who plays Laurens/Phillip 2. Me with the actor who plays Lafayette/Jefferson

How adorable are they? (Answer: super adorable)

Josh Groban was performing in something next door and came out of an adjacent door while we were waiting. There was lots of screaming from that crowd, but we just couldn’t be bothered, except for me to note that Groban likes his ladies to pop. (Bonus points if you get that.)

We wandered/floated back toward our hotel and we decided to stop to get some food and when we passed a 24-hour diner with giant cupcakes in the window, we made our decision. After all, we were only about 15 minutes away from my birthday.

A cupcake with rainbow sprinkles next to a diet coke

The fact that this is my ideal late-night snack should tell you everything about me that you need to know.

We woke up the next morning full of statements like, “Hey, remember that time we saw Hamilton?” and “Life is pointless now that we don’t have Hamilton to look forward to,” and “OMG, remember that part when [insert minute but oh so meaningful observation here] happened and it was fucking brilliant?!”

Then we went to breakfast and ate cheese and ham on toasted bread and life began to have meaning again. We were going to MOMA that day because we wanted to make fun of art that we didn’t understand. I have been to New York several times but I have never taken the subway because no one has ever given me step-by-step instructions on how to do so, so Jen declared that we were going to do it and I became the coolest, most casual New York City subway rider ever.

Four photos: 1. Me making an excited face at the entrance to a subway station; 2. Me giving the dorkiest thumbs up in the world in the subway station; 3. a selfie of me and Jen on the subway; 4. me on the subway

See also: I was no longer reluctant to embarrass Jen in public. I AM THE WORST.

I might write an insightful piece about the art we saw at MOMA later, so I’m not going to go too deeply into our visit here other than to say it took me about 45 seconds from entering the museum to be reprimanded by security for getting too close to the art. This reprimand is a thing that happens often to me, but even so, this one happened faster than usual.

I also want to post this photo of Jen contemplating modern art because it is maybe my favorite photo of all goddamn time.

Jen looking at a weird statue in a box. She looks quizzical.

This photo is fucking everything to me. It really sums up our afternoon at the museum. Look how hard she is trying to understand. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

I also saw my favorite painting of all time, which was really exciting and also made me wonder how MOMA defines “modern” art, seeing as how this was painted in the 19th century.

Me next to Van Gogh's The Starry Night

Although I guess if your museum can acquire this Van Gogh, you take it whether it fits into your mission statement or not.

I also found my favorite wall curtain at this museum. Fortunately no one reprimanded me for getting too close to it because I stroked it like it was my cat.

Photo of a curtain made of strings of metal beads.

Sooooo pleasing.

I think those three photos really sum up our museum trip well. On our way back to our hotel, we stopped at the Hamilton store across the street from the Richard Rogers Theatre because it was closed by the time we finished jumping up and down at the stage door the night before. It was there that Jen took her turn at encouraging me to make bad purchasing decisions, none of which I regret at all.

Photo of Quinn lying on my floor covered in a Hamilton-themed blanket.

After this happened within minutes of my arriving at home, I had to take steps to ensure that it never happened again because Hamilton blanket is MINE.

I also really enjoyed the Hamilton in-joke on the door of the store.

Sign taped to a door that reads "Thanks for visiting...We will see you again soon! You'll be back...Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da de da dat dat da...etc."

I am thoroughly amused by you and your overpriced products, Hamilton store. Let me throw my money at you!

We spent that evening having dinner with one of the families that Jen had provided surrogate services for seven years ago. No photos or long stories here because not my family/not my place to do so, but I’m just sayin’ if they ever wanted to adopt me, I’m available because they were delightful. Great couple, great kids, AND once they found out it was my birthday, they busted out candles and sang to me. My only regret is that Jen almost tricked me into eating octopus. Fortunately, I was able to pawn it off on the 7-year-old sitting next to me.

Friday dawned with the knowledge that we were going home in just a couple of hours and we hadn’t eaten any bagels yet. We rectified that with a jaunt to a delicious deli and I utilized my newfound skills at blending in as a New Yorker by taking photos of tall buildings…

Photo of the New York Times building with a red and white streetlamp in front of it.

I mean, was I NOT going to take this photo of the pokeball streetlamp?

politicized rats…

Photo of me in front of a truck on which is a giant inflated rat.

You guys! It’s Scabby!

and the sidewalk.

Photo of a stencil on the sidealk of a cat head.

I am almost ridiculously embarrassing to walk around with, but it was a cat on the sidewalk—you KNOW my kids were going to want to see that.

It took Jen and I a really long time to find the actual Penn Station we were looking for because there is a building across the street from the actual Penn Station that is labeled as Penn Station, but is really a post office and home to the Long Island Rail Road. We were wandering through the post office and I was texting Alex to ask him how to find the trains at Penn Station and he was all, “Um…follow the signs? What the fuck is wrong with you?” and I was all, “I NEVER GOT MY RETURN TO DC ON THE TRAIN STEP-BY-STEP POWER POINT I AM LOST AND WILL HAVE TO LIVE IN NEW YORK FOREVER AND EVERY TIME I TAKE A PHOTO POINTED UP SOMEONE TRIES TO SELL ME A BUS TOUR AND IT IS JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE I AM PICKED OFF AS A RUBE AND MY BODY SHOWS UP IN THE HUDSON.”

Or something along those lines.

No thanks to Alex, we eventually found our way to the right place. Jen set off on her way back to the airport and eventually home. I bought a slice of pizza, because I was in New York and needed to do so and I dropped an entire piece of pepperoni down my shirt because I am the most embarrassing person in the history of people.

It also turns out that to get on a train from New York to DC, you really have to throw some elbows and jockey for space. Because I’m an asshole, if I get on a crowded train and there are empty aisle seats, but one of those empty aisle seats has a purse on it because someone is obviously trying to not have to sit next to someone, I will insist on sitting there. I bet you didn’t know exactly how passive aggressive I am, didja?

I’m a good seat mate because I hate people though, so I think it all balances out.

Big thanks to Alex. Big thanks to Jen. Big thanks to the cast and creators of Hamilton.

Photo of a building with an eagle in front of it, two American flags, and a pride flag.

Big thanks, New York. You were good to us.

16 thoughts on “You Could Be Anywhere in the World Tonight…

  1. I felt like Hamilton was the one experience in the world that lived up to ALL the hype. I would see it every day of my life if I could.

  2. Alex wins husband of a lifetime!! So glad you had an awesome birthday. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your ramen, though. That stuff is great for cold and/or rainy days.

  3. Big thanks to you. I thought there was no way I was ever going to see Hamilton on Broadway and you made it happen! I owe you. I would also like to point out that I didn’t try to trick you into eating octopus. I thought it was chicken. I will however totally cop to the awkward ramen conversation. Note to self, save the anal gland stories for *after* lunch.

    • You were a great traveling companion. I had a blast with you, anal glands and all.

  4. Me? Envious beyond all comprehension? Pshaw!

    What a fabulous trip, brilliantly entertainingly described – thank you!

  5. At this point in my life, a lot of my adventures are of the vicarious type. And the ones I “go on” with you are some of my favorites. Thanks!

  6. Glad to hear there is someone else in the world with the worm/noodle problem. Avoid Pho (Vietnamese soup), and anything with big fat Udon noodles that will remind you of a sidewalk when it is raining.
    Angel hair pasta= NO.
    Acceptable noodles are the “rice sticks”, which are flat like linguine.
    I happily eat many strange things- octopus, squid, snake, alligator, escargot, lamb’s tongue, jellyfish tentacles, turkey gizzard, but not worm-shaped noodles.
    Love your humourous stories

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  8. Do you remember the name of the place where you got the dessert tapas? They look so good!

  9. I thought of multiple comments while reading this but I’m not sure I can remember them all now. First of all your trip sounds awesome and I wish I could hang out with you in real life! Also, I once took a great picture of pigeons huddling around a fire in Chicago. I don’t really remember why there was a small fire on the sidewalk but there was. They looked like they were toasting marshmallows. The cheese basket looks delicious. But why can you never go back??? Did you get kicked out of New York?

    • It’s more about having no more Hamilton on Broadway in my future. New York will still be there. :)

      If you have that photo, I would LOVE to see it.

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