My husband, Eddie, and I are traveling to visit our daughter, son-in-law, and grandson in Amsterdam. My husband is a type A planner for vacations and I am a C+. I am okay with relaxing on vacation and missing a few important and unimportant landmarks. He, on the other hand, is early to rise and does not burn a second for the leisurely life, therefore our trip is meticulously planned several months in advance. On the advice of our daughter we considered the discount fares offered by Icelandair. The only requirement was that you have a stopover in Reykjavik. We thought cool, then we discovered we needed to fly out of Newark or JFK. We both had enough points to fly free to Newark on Southwest, again everything working according to plan. As it turns out we would be traveling on my birthday. I have been following Lin-Manuel Miranda for some time and wanted to see the musical “Hamilton”. We decided we could squeeze a show into our plan. I am willing to admit, I coveted those tickets. I was busting at the seams that I was finally going to see this historic and awesome musical. We researched our time, deciding we could see the matinee showing at 2:00pm and still make it to the airport for an international flight leaving at 8pm. I was feeling jazzed about how things were falling into place.
Our departure day finally is here, everything goes as planned. We arrive at our hotel. I am not jazzed that we are staying in Time Square, my least favorite place in NYC, but all things considered it is fine for a one night stay; and we are around the corner from the theater. I suggest to my husband as we enter the hotel that I check with the concierge about our time constraints the next day following the musical. The concierge informs me we need to be at the Newark airport at 5:30pm for an 8pm international flight. Uh oh, we hit our first snafu of the trip; the show ends at 4:45pm. We do not have enough time to make it to the airport if we encounter congested traffic. My heart starts to sink, all my birthday dreams are about to shatter. I take the elevator up to the lobby and tell my husband. He relays that our room is not ready; it will be about an hour or so. Even though the concierge told us the theaters do not buy back tickets or swap, we walk over to the ticket office of the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The box office is open and we tell them our story. They affirm they do not buy tickets back, and in addition, the show that night is sold out. My heart continues to squeeze a little tighter. They suggest that we stand in the cancelation line outside. We might get tickets. There is a lottery for tickets and many people do not claim them. My husband looks at me and we decide to take a chance!
There are five people ahead of us in line. The line begins to move and everyone is getting tickets. We tried to trade our seats, no takers. Then suddenly we are at the head of the line and they have two orchestra seats on the second-row center stage. We pay one fourth of what we paid for our mezzanine seats. Now what do we do with our matinee seats? My heart is not squeezing anymore; it is growing exponentially. I cannot help but smile from ear to ear. Our room is ready for check-in. We stop at the concierge and ask might they refer anyone requesting Hamilton tickets to us. The answer was a definitive “NO”. However, they had a plan B. Stubhub has an office close to Time Square and we could sell them online. So we head out again, only to discover that they moved the office, one block over. We are on a mission, determined to find the new location. Success is sweet and we proceed to the service office. We give them the tickets and up they go for sale on the Web. We priced them competitively, a little less than recommended. We just wanted to recoup the money we spent on the new tickets. Our decision to purchase tickets months in advance was worth spending a little more to be sure we had tickets, not that our plans had worked out so far. We worked up quite an appetite and stopped for tappas at Jack’s on 46th. It was a much-needed respite from the hectic pace of the previous two hours.
My husband received a business call he needed to take; I decided to check my phone. I have nineteen messages from my family. My brother had a heart attack two hours earlier, and this time my squeeze was real. It was about real people and my family that I love. I worried about tickets and real life and death was happening to my brother. Then I see a second set of text saying that the Cath Lab doctor could stop the attack and patch him up. The squeeze eases a little. I am concerned, but not ready to book-it to our home city. I text and continue to monitor. We continue our very disjointed day, but with gratitude for our present fortune. Hamilton was wonderful, it was incredible. During intermission, I check my messages to see if there is an update on my brother’s condition. I have a voice message from my brother. Again, my heart grows exponentially when I hear his voice and he assures me he is okay. I feel his blessings and know that love and family are the true blessings for each us as we travel our own personal journey. We are bits and pieces of each other and that is relationship; that is love.
This morning, my actual birthday, we slept in. It was glorious! We went to a very cool midtown restaurant, The Hourglass Tavern on 46th. While we did not have reservations and it is a small restaurant that was bustling. We were seated and treated like old friends. The owner, Beth, gave us a tour of all four floors, and then took us up to the rooftop to see her garden. During our meal, which was excellent (crab benedict for me and Belgian waffles for Eddie), our waiter brought us a champagne cocktail to celebrate. And best of all, I received another voice message from my brother, wishing me happy birthday. He sounded stronger. I am feeling the blessings of so many others. In the end, our matinee tickets sold, and after arriving at the airport we discovered that our flight was not until 8:45 pm. Ironically, we probably would have been able to make the original plan work. After reflecting upon the previous twenty-four hours, I realize by not despairing on events outside of our control we were able to create a better experience.
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