Close Call Gifts In Strange Wrapping Paper

We were lucky enough to have reasonable tickets pop up at the last minute, and got to go to the theatre last evening to see Hamilton, before the cast and crew pack up and leave town. This historic show based in the time of forming this country is as relevant to today, in this time of breaking apart the very work of those. immigrants all, forefathers, who gave their lives so all these years later, we could have lives lived in freedom; with rights, safety and happiness. Yes, that piece always gets me. They wrote ‘happiness’ into purposes and rights for us!

Here in this century, is a groundbreaking production of American theatre history. A broadway musical in a new form of tale and tune; to an au courant beat and lyric expression. The words from the experiences of long ago ring out to the audience too true in today. The tapestry of us all being beings is woven across time. One can be suspended and upended by the depth and height of experiences then and relevancy now.
The incredible foresight and guts to fight for and build a new nation from a melting pot of many differences from other places in the world; the courage to place one’s life on the line for the the highest Good and betterment of ALL against tyranny of one ruling unendingly over many, birthed for us the life we’ve been privileged to enjoy, with all its human frailties and faults.

One of the lines sung by George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, after the war ends, says this: “Winning is easy; governing is harder.”
They both go on to acknowledge the facts still needing tending, as they are trying to form a good government by the people, for the people, and sing:

“The constitution’s a mess.
So, it needs amendments.
Its’s full of contradictions.
So is independence.”

And King George, in conceding the loss of the war, watches from afar with shock and awful prescience the initial steps this toddler America takes and fairly bristles with pleasure and portent at the preposterousness of a democracy of presidents and rights of people. He hisses, “They’ll tear each other to pieces!”

We, in the audience, shudder for a second and glance around at each other; knowing  that today’s political wreckage, and climate of fear mongering among us and abuse of power is living proof that tidbit is true.

For, as we entered the beautiful 90 year old grand dame Paramount Theatre, gathering to take our seats inside her gracefull sculptured inner sanctum, gazing at the immense ‘way back machine’ stage set for our journey into history, along with ushers passing out programs and helping theatre goers to their seat rows, we noticed a dog moving up and down the aisles. My first thought at this oddity was, ‘ must be a service dog…looking for its master?’ The full house was packed and busy with excited energy of anticipation and readying for a long and life changing show.

Then we noticed there was one man in navy blue walking up and down the aisle with the dog;  allowing the animal to smell each row on either side. A dog! In the theatre? Unheard of!

Then came the dawn!

This was a service dog of a different calling…a bomb sniffing dog!

We and our seat mates all whispered as if we were trapped in a plane cabin afraid to disturb a bomb or bomber. I froze in fear. I could feel my heart stop and my muscles pull in to tense. We all looked around for the exits. Were we close or too far away, God Forbid?

Two people hadn’t yet arrived to fill our row and their seats were in the upright position. In my head, I wanted us all to stand up and check under our seats for ticking devices or c-4 packs. But I was, frankly afraid to say that or look myself… for fear of finding.

My mind wandered back to while I waited outside the theatre for my dear Tom to park the car. Voices rang out, telling people to have their bags/purses open and ready to be inspected at the doors.
“No back packs or large handbags or satchels will be permitted into the theatre!”

I watched a lady go by me with a very large satchel bag. She didn’t come back out. A gal with a backpack on. She never even took it off her back, never mind open it. She never came back out. A couple of guys with back packs went in and didn’t come back out.

What happened to them? Were their bags confiscated?  These seemingly nosy small questions previously allowed to slip away, now seemed important.

We’d been to the show last month and this hand searching through purses felt out of place and more rock concert like; a looking for bottles of liquid imbibing, weed or bringing in food than genteel theatre.
Then, like every tiny neon flash, those thoughts got shrugged off too and lost in the excitement of seeing the show.

Sometimes, I’m super insightful and sometimes it takes several acts of God to get through and move me off the dime.

This night though, was Checkpoint Charlie heightened.

Tonight, with the addition of bomb sniffing dogs (there had been none last month when we first saw this production) I was petrified, wondering how or if we could get out. Could we leave the theatre right now? Screw the show; save our lives!? It didn’t look good. We’d have to trust the dogs.

I joked, as I do when I’m nervous or trying to lighten a heavy experience for folks. “Good thing I didn’t put that summer sausage in my handbag!” heh heh. Anxious smiles. Nervous bits of laughter.
The gal one seat over from me looks wide eyed and we assured ourselves everything was all right. In my mind, I’m thinking of my grandchildren being told that Gramence and Grampy at least died doing something they loved. That’s not such a terrible thing, right?

I really want to get out of this place. Nice present, Tom. Ohhh, Screw this, it’s just a show; just money. No one will die for giving up either. Breathe. Breathe. All
is well. All is well. Be still and know. Angels surround.

Wait! Is this how we’re sposed to die? In the theatre!? Oh, that is too rich. ‘Not funny, you guys up there!’ I think really loudly to my too many theatre friends, family and colleagues already gone to that big theatre in the sky before me. My outrage and fear melt into more of a Let Go and Let God thing I’ve been practicing.

I sort of choose faith. And moreover, authenticity.  I’m sick of trying to be strong; bucking people up, I lean into Tom and whisper, “I’m really scared.”
And the orchestra begins, lights dim on us audience and come up onstage as the players begin to fret their hours upon the stage and we are in the nuts and bolts; slings and arrows of the founding of our nation. The booms we heath r are just the vocal ones from the singers’ lyrics representing canons of  of war and awareness of insights.

We all  lived.

This morning, as I write this, I have a gigantic energy hangover and the first thing I see on facebook is about the verbal abuse and mean misunderstanding being slammed at the survivor kids from most recent massacre of children in schools, (Isn’t that a sad thing to say…’most recent massacre?!’) These survivor kids won’t stay silent or go away in their courageous public grief. They have demands for change for public safety. Imagine the chutzpah of that! People who lost people in nightclubs, movie theatres, concerts, temples and churches want that too. I want that too.

It dawns on me this dawn, that the announcement of ‘no large satchels or bags’ allowed in the theatre last nite was to keep automatic rifles used in all the other massacres, out!
I am in shock! I am naive, even in my own good heart and character stance for sane removal of these weapons of war meant for maximum killing and optimal flesh damage. I want them out of and unavailable in civilian life.

How dare our representative not only allow the, they support the makers and lobbyists and taking away our safety for their own profit!

I’m outraged at the intrusion into schools and places of worship and the safe pastimes of our country.  I’m angry that we had to be put in a position of fear and fragility; doing nothing more than leaving the house to see a show.

And I’m fully aware that what I’m feeling in the aftermath of,   bad enough, threatening, that hat these kids went through was a million times worse in living though a bloodbath of friends dead and dying on the battlefield of their…SCHOOL!!!

Damn straight, they want these killing machines gone. So do I!

Responsible sportsmen know the sanity of this. Vets know and deserve to come home feeling safe to the country they fought to keep safe from that carnage, and not have to be in the middle of weapons of war anymore. Not to flinch at backfires or read of one massacre after another  by some white dude with an automatic weapon not meant for civilian life.
Last evening, I got a whiff of that insecurity in a place once never thought of where weapons of any kind might be commonplace.

A whiff.

No one got mangled or died. But the threat was obviously there in a normally safe place.

Who knows? Was there a threat turned in to the theatre that we didn’t know about? It is, after all, a very political show.

Weapons of war in civil life are already so commonplace, and, ghastly, actually supported by many for profit, prejudice or posturing, that we, the people, are subject to far worse than King George ever could have imagined…. but now that I’ve said that, maybe his words were more pronouncement than at the time petty. “They’ll tear each other to pieces.”

Who could have known with what flesh tearing, life obliterating weaponry that would be done…or where sanctuaries of common safety and decency in our communities would be destroyed in the name of greed, racism and treason.

Back to the future lived last night in the theatre.

People in our row talked about the signs of our times…..the notice posted on a cinema front door, “no weapons allowed inside”..the shocking little dark gun in a circle with a line drawn through it, ‘no guns’ sign on the entrance glass door to The Cheesecake Factory!

We were all shocked, trying to process these losses of civility and safety and depths of the sewer to which America has descended; the erosion of morals; the acceptance of the degradation in our country.
This shock will never wear off.  As uncomfortable as this heavy cloak is to bear and wear, we did not have to run for our lives like the school kids did and yet the ominous threat of the possibility was too real…because those with the power to make needed change, are wanton and willing…for their own personal profit!

I’ve said too many times, I can’t understand….This or that depth of terrible experience and pain.
But now I have a very valuable thing, in addition to my moral compass, within me forever,….a whiff.

In Hamilton, when those young men from across the sea, who became our forefathers took to the battle field, they sing; “We’re finallly on the field. We’ve had quite a run.
Immigrants get the job done!”
A roar goes up and fist rise, woot woot, in the air every night from the audience members, as if we are right there on the battle field too; because we are….again… and every blessed, or damned, one of us immigrants!

As is said, in this historic production, after the founders fight for and hammer out tooth and nail, a creation of a better life; a better, safer country for highest Good for ALL:
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
We fought for these ideals and we shouldn’t settle for less.
These are wise words.”

We, the, people, descendants of immigrants ALL, must not settle for less either.

Rise up.
Speak up.
Stand together
Honor what was gifted us.
Do not accept the unacceptable.
It is not commonplace.

I think of the young people standing up to those in leadership positions who won’t lead and are only interested in being well fed and not rocking their monied boat.
The founders were young too.
‘Young scrappy and hungry.’

Treason and death are inside our gates.
That is unacceptable.
Words from “Hamilton” that were true then and are true now:
“There is a battle for our nation’s soul.”

And, after last night’s scare, instead of living in fear, I choose to focus on another line, another perspective, from the women characters of that time period, who were also activists; I heard with different ears, connecting them from then and now which give me another way of looking at the wreckage going on around us, that I despair of seeing:

“Look around. Look around at how lucky we are to be alive now. History is happening in America and we just happen to be in the greatest country in the world.”

A ray of the light of hope opens in my heart and liquid light of pride and the love I have for our country and those who have fought to bring her into being and raise her well, slips down my cheeks.

How can we heal her?
Can we heal her?
Yes, we can.
Yes, we will.
Together.

 

and my dear Tom, of good humor, pokes his head in to lift my spirits with his ’60’s soul and wit; sees what i’m working on and through and quips a line from another Broadway period show, “Hair”: ” Believe in DOG!”

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