The night before I left town, I saw Hamilton live for the first time.
I felt nothing.
But (I am quick to add), I’m fairly certain that had more to do with my own frantic state of mind, with my head full of plans and deadlines.
My first day on the road, I re-listened to the entire soundtrack twice, alternating between bawling, hollering lyrics at the top of my lungs, and laughing in delight.
The booms of Washington’s canons came right as I saw this brave cowboy outside of Vacaville, CA.
“Theodosia” was making me cry when the Nevada shoe tree appeared, and the tiny child-size purple Converse didn’t help.
But, putting aside the release of adrenaline that just getting on the road gave me, the play resonated with some of the things I’m mulling on this trip, and I’m not totally sure I’m on the right side of history…
First of all, I’m pretty much Burr. I often make it a point to not let folks know who I’m against or who I’m for. I try to voice my opinions, mildly, with qualifications, never really taking a stand. I like to call it being open-minded and considering others’ opinions, but it does sometimes come down to swallowing my own opinions and backing down from fights.
Also, if I had picked a side, I would probably have stood with Jefferson and his Southern Democratic-Republicans. Hamilton was obviously right – his financial system made America the powerhouse and world leader that we are today… but his system made us what we are today. And I find myself, more and more, wishing for a way to opt out of this economic system that sometimes feels like a set of chains instead of a ladder.
Chains… I can’t escape them. Not even by driving straight out into a dry-actually-wait-not-so-dry-oh-shit lake bed.
Yep. He literally had to use every chain in his truck, and still almost couldn’t reach me. Oh well. Thank goodness I got that out of my system early on – I now feel NO desire to further test out that all-wheel drive.
Clunky metaphors aside, it does make me a bit sad to feel pushed into a globalization trend that really started with Hamilton (at least in this country). Two of the three people I interacted with the most today – the gas station attendant who fed me while I waited, and the tow truck driver – were facing local economies that were crashing. She was waiting for the coal plant to shut down, as part of a ten year plan that would eliminate 500 jobs – nearly half the town. He had already been forced to leave his hometown, after an oil bust, and was struggling to find any jobs that paid enough to cover his bills.
The third guy – the sweet, kind man who rescued a hot, tired, stranded woman in a red skull dress waving madly in the middle of the desert – was a rock climber training to get a job at a wilderness therapy organization.
He reminded me that there are still ways to opt-out. Still, those are always considered ‘passion’ jobs that won’t pay a real wage (trust me – I’ve hired wilderness guides before). That’s fine if you’re a nomadic twenty-something, but what if you have kids? Or student loans? Or medical debts? Or any one of the thousands of other things that chain you tighter to the existing systems?
I honestly don’t know. Let’s see what I find on the road.