Good morning, guys and gals. I hope you’re having a super Tuesday, and I hope none of you permanently burned your retinas during yesterday’s solar eclipse.
I happened to get lucky and found a pair of eclipse glasses in my office’s break room, so I snatched ’em up and treated myself to a little bit of science.
Onto my weekend recap. Beware: it’s a long one. You’ve been warned.
About three weeks ago, Felix and I were hanging out on the sofa with the pets at the end of a long day. I was singing “Waving Through A Window” FLAWLESSLY and simply stated, “We should go to New York City for my birthday and see Dear Evan Hansen.”
Now, I say shit like this a lot.
I’m like, “Let’s go hang out with Amy Poehler this weekend. Maybe brunch?”
“We should dress up like characters from GoT and flash mob D.C.”
“Let’s cut back on carbs.”
I basically talk nonsense all of the time, including this remark about hightailing it to NYC for a weekend to see a musical. The idea might not seem that far-fetched, but tickets were running $500+, so it was but a dream.
Or so I figured.
Five seconds later, Felix was on Stubhub and had two tickets he found for not quite $500 but still sell-your-kidney level and was like, “Are we going?”
Naturally, I HAD A FIT.
“What? You found tickets? Don’t lie,” I said as my eyes filled with tears. “Did you? Are they good seats? Should we buy them? ARE WE BUYING THEM? AM I GONNA SEE BEN?”
Before I knew it, the tickets were purchased, along with tickets to see Dave Chappelle with Childish Gambino at Radio City freaking Music Hall.
At this point, I was a puddle on the floor, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening. I finally composed myself, and we booked a hotel room. Then I ate ice cream because I couldn’t deal.
That’s the backstory.
Friday morning, we woke up at our usual time of 5 a.m. Don’t ask. We’re freaks. By 8:30 a.m., we were on the road and arrived in New York City by 1 p.m. We stayed at Paramount Hotel right in the heart of Times Square, directly across from Richard Rodgers Theatre, where the other Puerto Rican love of my life, Lin-Manuel Miranda, performed in both Hamilton and In the Heights.
It reminded me of the few times Felix and I would stand outside the theatre after entering the lottery anxiously awaiting the winners. We never won, but we did get to see a Ham 4 Ham show and saw LMM in the flesh.
LMM stands for Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s what I, the other love of his life, call him.
We grabbed a quick bite and a beer before checking in to our room, and then we immediately changed and walked to Dutch Fred’s for a pre-show dinner before Dear Evan Hansen at the Music Box.
At dinner, we shared some hummus + pita and tacos, along with a couple of cocktails. You know, liquid courage before I saw the show that would ultimately change my life.
I had the Kinky Boots to start, which was a delicious blend of vodka, St. Germain, raspberries and lemon. I finished with a Red Is The New Black, which was gin, St. Germain, lemon, egg whites and topped with lavender.
After our meal, we took an Uber to the Music Box, which was necessary since a torrential downpour decided to arrive right as we were wrapping things up.
I’ll spare you the terrifying Uber ride through Times Square during a rainstorm, but let’s just say that we made it with a literal 7 minutes to spare. I was a wreck the whole time in the car thinking we weren’t going to make it or we’d arrive late and they wouldn’t let us in.
For me, arriving to the theatre at 6:45 p.m. for a 7 p.m. curtain is late. You’re late. So when we rolled into the Music Box at 7:53 p.m. for an 8 o’clock show, I thought I would vomit on myself.
As soon as security let us through and our tickets were scanned, I collapsed on the stairway and loudly exclaimed, “THANK GOD!”
I’m not dramatic in the least. I’m sure you can tell.
I ran to the bathroom to freshen up, and when I came out, Felix was waiting with our playbills and snacks (he knows me well) and we settled into our seats and anxiously awaited the start of the show.
When the house lights dimmed, I felt my heart shoot up into my throat. When I saw Ben Platt walk onto the stage and prepare for the opening, I gasped and had to grab onto Felix.
It was either I grab Felix or the nice woman to my right, which, spoiler, I ended up grabbing her knee during Act II after I shared my Kleenex with her.
As soon as the lights came up, I started crying. These weren’t just after you stub your toe, and it didn’t hurt that bad, but you’re mostly just annoyed it happened tears… these were I just got my heart broken and they’re playing our song on the radio and I’m totally alone but there’s probably hope on the horizon and what if I don’t pass college and I have to tell my mom tears.
Ben Platt was utter perfection as Evan Hansen.
Pure perfection. Every detail, every blink, every single choice he made was the right one. The entire cast killed it, but Ben Platt broke my heart, played our song on the radio, stubbed my toe, and caused me to flunk out of college all at once.
I was a wreck.
As to not spoil anything for anyone who has not seen the musical and is interested, all I will say was it completely blew me away and left me inspired, reawakened and a puddle of emotions.
When the show came to a close, I didn’t want to leave. I just clapped and cried and wanted them to do it all over again from the beginning.
Felix knows me well and suggested we go out for a night cap before wandering back to our hotel through Times Square.
More cocktails. Yes, please.
We found ourselves at a piano bar called The Rum House and were treated to a delicious French 75 and some live music before calling it a night.
Saturday morning began around 7:30 a.m. with breakfast in bed!
Felix woke up a bit early than I did to watch a Manchester United game. Before I really woke up, he went on a coffee run and I was greeted with an iced coffee and breakfast upon his return. Good guy.
After breakfast and a leisurely morning watching soccer, we laced up our shoes and headed out for a sweaty and wonderful 3.5 mile run through Central Park.
The weather was beautiful on Saturday and definitely made up for the bought of rain we had the night before. The sun was shining and there were so many people out enjoying the park.
Central Park is a must-see if you go to NYC. I feel like I don’t really need to say that, because I’m sure you all know, but I can’t stress its beauty enough.
It’s so peaceful, yet full of energy.
On our walk back to the hotel to shower, we decided to take a detour and hit up Levain Bakery at my cookie-loving request!
The line was super short, and we were in and out in ten minutes with a bag full of the most decadent cookies I’ve ever eaten.
Two rounds of chocolate chip walnut, 1 chocolate peanut butter and 1 oatmeal raisin to-go, and we sat for awhile on a bench outside of Central Park enjoying our treats and chatting about living in New York.
Hey, you never know what could happen. 😉
We made our way back to the hotel with the intention of showering and getting ready for a casual lunch, but life had other plans…
It was around 12:30 p.m. when we got back, and after showering and getting ready, we decided we’d check StubHub to see if they had Hamilton tickets available. It was a far-fetched idea, but when in New York, right?
We were saddened to see they were still incredibly expensive, but Felix had the brilliant plan to keep refreshing and seeing if the tickets would drop closer to curtain, which was at 2 p.m. for the matinee.
I continued getting ready and started surfing the web for lunch spots, because I honestly didn’t think we’d be going. Between the prices and how close it was to a show, I had given up.
Around 1:40 p.m., Felix looks at me and says, “Are we doing this?”
I just looked at him and shouted, “Are we doing this? Are we buying ticke… are we seeing Hamilto…. ARE WE SEEING HAMILTON? ARE WE?”
I ran to the bathroom because I, again, was overwhelmed with emotions (story of my life this weekend) and when I emerged, Felix says, “Get your purse. Let’s go!”
We ran downstairs, rushed the concierge to print our tickets, and literally sprinted out of the hotel room and across the street to the theatre where we stood in line for about five minutes before entering the theatre, which was…
I couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t believe it.
As soon as we walked in, we were both filled with so much excitement and awe and emotion.
Being inside of a space that housed the story that has become such a huge part of our lives was a dream come true.
A dream come true.
After reveling in the excitement and beauty, we took our seats and kept saying, “We’re seeing Hamilton,” to each other, even as the lights went down.
Similarly to Dear Evan Hansen, I cried throughout the entire show. From the first number, tears were streaming down my face. I was so overcome with emotion and gratitude and wonder that I couldn’t hold it in. I just felt so thankful to be experiencing such a legendary show and to have a partner who also appreciated the musical for the same reasons.
Javier Muñoz played Alexander Hamilton and his performance was nuanced and beautiful. The actresses playing Eliza and Angelica were equally as stunning.
The show was wonderful. It was what I expected. And although it would have been incredible to see the original cast, this cast held their own and carried the show beautifully.
The musical ended at 5 p.m., and we had a couple of minutes to run back to the hotel and change before heading out to dinner. We hadn’t eaten since the cookies in Central Park, so we were ravenous.
We were super pumped for Dave Chappelle, who was the entertainment for that evening, but we honestly couldn’t stop talking about the musicals we got to see.
I cried. A lot. I couldn’t stop.
For dinner, we decided to go back to Dutch Fred’s, because the cocktails! Also, the night before, we didn’t have much food, so we chose to give it another whirl.
We shared chips and guac, turkey burgers, sweet potato fries and cauliflower tacos, and washed it down with a few rounds of delicious cocktails.
I had the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang twice, which was gin, blackberries, lemon and champagne. Felix had some bourbon-based cocktails, which came with delicious bourbon-soaked cherries which I helped partake in.
After food and drinks, we walked to Radio City Music Hall for Dave Chappelle and Childish Gambino.
We locked our phones away in magnetized pouches so we couldn’t take photo or video (I thought this was a myth. It’s not), and we ordered some drinks and settled into our seats.
A few comedians opened for Dave Chappelle, including Hannibal Buress, and they were all hilarious and a great warm-up for the man of the hour.
Dave Chappelle’s set was great.
A little old school Chappelle, a few political jokes here and there, and a whole lot of laughs. There was even a mic snafu that I was pleased to witness he rolled with and turned into a joke.
The evening concluded around 1 a.m. after Childish Gambino played an entire set.
We danced, sang and laughed well into the evening before calling it and stumbling back to our hotel through Times Square for one final stroll through the city.
Sunday morning we were up and at ’em for a quick breakfast from a spot around the corner from our hotel before packing up and getting back on the road to head home.
The ride was long, and there was a lot of traffic, but it was a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the previous two days we had in the city.
I was thinking back to everything that we did in such a short amount of time while there. The shows, spur-of-the-moment purchasing of tickets, late-night cocktails at a tucked away bar, running through a park and relishing in the scenery and crowds instead of immediately running away from them, indulging in delicious food and simply letting the city take us on an adventure.
I loved it.
It’s unusual for me to be so into the moment and spontaneous, and it’s something I’ve been working on for awhile.
This weekend trip to New York taught me to live a little bit more. To make a quick plan, to escape into the small inconspicuous bar, and to run, not for time, but just to feel the wind on my face.
NYC also taught me that if you want something, anything at all, you should go get it. Life is too short, and the world has too many adventures to take you on for you to say no.
So here’s your reminder.
Live your best life.
You’ll be happy that you did.
What’s on your must-see list in New York City?
Have you ever been to Broadway? What show did you see and what’s on your bucket list?