Hamilton May 26 and 27
Mom knew how much Emma loved listening to Hamilton and decided to take her to see it when it came to Atlanta. She let me and Jack (who also enjoys it) tag along too. She and I conferred and she bought tickets and hotel accommodations in November.
She came to stay with us on Friday and she and I bought snacks for the road trip down to Atlanta. On Saturday we left around 9:30 and began our journey. Jack had asked if we could stop at a NASCAR diecast store in Gainesville on the way down. It was not a huge detour and so we made arrangements. As we drove, we listened to Hamilton. The genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics strikes me every time. I was so caught up in Philip Hamilton’s duel that I missed the turn to the diecast store! I wondered how many people going to see Hamilton had to stop by a NASCAR souvenir shop also. Jack is quite the renaissance man.
Diecast Depot = Jack’s Happy Place
We found the store in a little strip mall and Jack was in NASCAR heaven. Diecasts are replica cars and because NASCAR cars are reworked for almost every race and drivers change every year, you could buy a million of them. The cars come in a 1:24 scale (about 10 inches long) or 1:64 scale (the size of a Hot Wheels car). Jack likes to collect the 1:64 cars, and this place was literally stacked to the ceiling with boxes of diecast cars. From appearances, the owner did most of his business online, but he had enough out and displayed that Jack was pretty happy. Jack and MaJo (our two NASCAR experts) conferred over which ones he wanted to buy. He settled on four, and I told him I’d buy him two if he bought the other two. Mom had a fun time chatting with the owner and Emma stood outside because so much NASCAR in confined quarters made her a little crazy. I land somewhere in between Jack and Emma on the love of NASCAR scale, so I was okay with it.
Ponce City Market and Hangriness
It was 11:30 by the time we left the store. We decided to hold out for lunch until we got to Ponce City Market in downtown Atlanta (spoiler alert: this was a mistake). Traffic was normal, not terrible. We found Ponce City Market and parked. It was super cute and hipster-ish. In the parking garage I told Mom, “I think we are the oldest people here.” Everyone was in their early thirties or younger and there were a lot of them there! The market facility had originally been an old Sears and Roebuck warehouse, so it was very cool and industrial looking. We were starving and hoped to find some fun lunch choices, but all of the places to eat either had a line a mile long or had crazy prices (or both). Lunch choices seemed to average around $14 per person and we were not planning on spending that much to basically eat in a food court, chic as it may be. My frugal momness coupled with low blood sugar made the next few minutes frustrating. Mom bought Jack two “craft” hot dogs (we laughed about what makes a hot dog a “craft” dog and I said, “Maybe they are locally sourced? Grassfed? Sustainably raised?” and Mom just raised an eyebrow and said, “It just said all beef.” Maybe the cows were especially adept at knitting and/ or watercolors. Emma and I split a plate of lamb kebabs and roasted cauliflower (the sleeper hit of the lunch menu, I would eat that roasted cauliflower all day long) from Marrakesh and Mom found a little package of orzo salad that was not delish and chicken salad from Farm To Ladle and we ate our small portions, grateful to get anything in our bellies. OK maybe that was just me, but I could feel my mood dramatically transform from hangry to happy in about 15 minutes.
After eating and no longer hating Atlanta and everything related to it, we browsed the cute shops. The clothes at Boogaloos Boutique were fun and different and they had the world’s softest jeans. We petted them for a bit. Rhen’s Nest had lots of imaginative and different toys (I bought Emma some Batman playing cards) and we laughed at the finger feet and hands. Although Anthropologie and West Elm are rather ubiquitous, they ain’t in Spartanburg and I totally enjoyed browsing. There was a green velvet chair in West Elm that called to me in especially beguiling tones. And some heavy pewter salt and pepper shakers shaped like pine cones. I said, “Wouldn’t these look cute in our camper?” And Emma said, ever practical, “They would roll around and break everything in their path.” Also enjoyed Citizen Supply, which housed several vendors of beautifully crafted goods. Also in Citizen Supply were a few large backdrops set up for people to take pictures. The light coming through the large factory windows was perfect, and it just seemed like a genius and unexpected thing to have in a shopping area. Mom and I watched as a large family took some pictures together, a sweet moment.
We didn’t hit every store because we were definitely tired and ready to get to the
hotel, but we also peeked in and loved the little bookstore (Rifle Paper Journals for my traveler’s notebook? Yes please!) and Mountain High Outfitters.
We drove to the hotel in Buckhead which was not far but traffic was slow. We checked in and angels immediately began gently singing because across the street was an On the Border which meant we could walk to supper!! We sat in the hotel room for a minute and then Mom and I headed over to OTB and Emma and Jack followed in a bit. After supper we came back and watched a movie and slept. The next morning we ate breakfast, went to church and relaxed in our hotel room for an hour before we headed to the Fox Theatre.
At some point Saturday I became obsessed with the idea that our Hamilton tickets were fake. We knew friends who bought concert tickets recently that turned out to be counterfeit, and I read somewhere that this was happening on a large scale with Hamilton tickets. My fears worsened when I read an article online in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution stating the only way to ensure authenticity was to buy through the Fox Theatre website when they went on sale April 8. Mom had bought our tickets in November through a third party vendor. I tried not to let the fake ticket idea rule my brain, but it was definitely present. I voiced my fears to Mom and she calmly said, “Well, if they’re fake, there’s nothing we can do about it now.” Truth. I became so convinced that they were fake that I checked to see if tickets were still available for the Sunday matinee. There were still some singles in the Orchestra Pit. A scenario played out in my head where we were refused admission and we bought the two kids tickets at the box office and sat in the car and waited for them for three hours. It’s funny to think about in retrospect, but I was legit scared all of Saturday night and Sunday morning.
The Big Event
We got up, went to church, ate at Shake Shack (those burgers and shakes helped calm the nerves) in Buckhead, and killed a little time back at the hotel. Emma watched a guy walk out onto the roof below us who clearly was a hotel guest and not supposed to be out there. He looked up and saw her in the window, waved and gave a sheepish grin and then put his finger to his lips like, “Don’t tell anybody!” Pretty hilarious stuff. At last we deemed it time to leave and drove to the Fox. Even though we were an hour early, the line was impressive. We dropped Mom and Jack off at the front and drove back to some cheap parking we had seen a few blocks away. We forgot to get Mom’s binoculars out of the car which was disappointing, but there was no time to go back and retrieve them. When Emma and I met up with Jack and Mom, they were already right at security. Mom said she had shown the tickets to a woman in the box office and she said there was no way to know if they were genuine until they scanned them, but they did see fake ones all the time. So there’s that. Yikes! But – happy day – the tickets were good and relief washed over me (if manufacturing outlandish things to stress about was an Olympic event, you could just hand me every gold medal) and we climbed up to our seats high in the balcony.
We were far from the stage – I sincerely regretted forgetting Mom’s binoculars – but once the musical began, it didn’t really matter. Though it might have been fun to go see Hamilton without knowing the history or without having sung along to the songs for a few years now, there was something magical about being with an audience who clearly knew it all and was just as excited as we were for the thing to begin. The show did not disappoint, even without the original cast, it was just incredible. After singing the songs all this time, it was so much fun to see the exchanges between the actors and catch all of the little subtleties that can only be played out on stage and not in a recording. And the whole thing is just genius – the stripped down set, the actors moving set pieces in real time as they are singing and dancing, the rap/dialogue. His use of language is brilliant, really, you can listen to the words countless time and catch some new entendre or turn of phrase.
My Favorite Part
My favorite part was at the very beginning when they sang the opening song. Every time a new actor would sing his or her part of the song, the audience would absolutely roar and then cut themselves off instantaneously because no one wanted to miss a word. The joy, the excitement, was palpable. What must it be like to perform for a group of people already so in love with what you are doing? The whole thing was a delight, though I still grieved Philip’s death and still got so mad at Alexander for his self-sabotage with the whole Reynolds affair and wished he and Burr could just WORK IT OUT.
What a great time!
After it ended, we exited in the open air at the top of the building. We waited our turn to descend the steps and enjoyed the fresh air and the view of Atlanta from the top of the Fox. We walked back to the car and drove back to ol’ Sparkle City. What a great time!
Thanks MaJo for an awesome experience!