A Revolutionary Return

My friend LeeMichael had been in Chicago a few weeks before my visit and had advised me to try to get day-of ‘Hamilton’ tickets. To be honest, I’d never been enthralled with the idea of a hip-hopera lesson in history, but the hype and hoopla of the musical had largely been reported as justified, so I was open to giving it a shot. Tickets are notoriously difficult to get, and even when available they sometimes begin at the $800 mark. I won’t even pay that for Madonna, so I wasn’t counting on much. Yet there was a small line of four people at the ticket counter, and I hopped in to see if any cancellations for the lottery had taken place. Twenty minutes later, I had two second-row tickets at face value, and was frantically trying to reach Chris who still had not woken from the night before.

The show was due to start in a couple of hours, so I made my way to the nearby Palmer House Hilton, where I stayed on my very first visit to Chicago in 1995. Another memory, back to that summer visit over two decades ago. After a tumultuous train ride, my friend Kerry and I arrived to a heatwave in the height of August. The cool, dim opulence of the Palmer House was a balm on my overheated agitation, and I settled into the sumptuous lobby with relief, then and now. The memories were overlapping, but it was good. Despite the overbearing heat of that first trip, it had been a happy one. Now, we were about to see ‘Hamilton’ from the second row (I had to get the hotel to call Chris directly since he had his phone off and there was only an hour and a half to performance time) and I bellied up to the Palmer House bar for a quick lunch before the show.

For some reason, I had never ventured here when I lived in Chicago. I’m not sure why – hotel lobbies are my comfort zone, and this one was especially gorgeous. Maybe on some level I knew not to soil such magnificence with my frame of mind at the time. I was glad for that now. My memories were only happy ones, and I was making a new one with the American Revolution about to happen a few doors down.

The show was phenomenal (review to come) and after it was done I wanted to walk leisurely back to the hotel. Chris was in a rush for some reason, wanting to order a car to get us there quicker, but I was adamant. The afternoon was beautiful, and it was a manageable distance. We got back to the hotel and after suggesting a dozen restaurants, and having him turn them all down, we settled on a couple of options nearby. I’ve done this sort of dance with Chris before, and I wasn’t about to do it again. Without a plan, he would wander and waffle and in the end we’d have to settle for something neither of us wanted. But I was too tired to argue, and agreed to the first place we found, then suggested we go our own way for the evening. I had one more place I wanted to go, and he was agitating me with his FOMO. (More on that later too.)

I wrapped my scarf around my neck. The night had turned cooler, and the light had drained from the sky. It was only 8:30 or so, but my journey was a long one. I thought I could find my way, but I wasn’t sure. With a small sense of hesitancy, I hopped on the red line train and headed north. To the apartment where I’d lived with my first serious boyfriend…

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