In New York, You Can Be A New Man

By Samantha Stephenson

Halfway through being 20 years old, I felt 21. It seemed only natural. I was taking Junior year classes, cooking for myself, and getting even more serious about my passions. With each new responsibility I took, I felt closer and closer to the new age that would soon define me.

About a month before my birthday, my brother visited my Uncle in Missouri, a trip that (in truth) I was a little jealous of. He had concert tickets, restaurant menus, and – in his back pocket walking onto his flight. Before he stepped into the security line, I told him to send my best to our Uncle and wished him a safe flight.

My parents walked back to the car chattily, while I slowly followed, ruminating about the trip that my brother would embark on. When we got back to the car, my mom pulled a gift bag out of the back seat. What’s inside, you ask? 2 Amtrak tickets to New York, a 21st birthday bracelet, and a makeup bag decorated with the words “there’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait.”

Photo courtesy of Samantha Stephenson

We left in fifteen minutes. Once we arrived, we went to check in at our hotel. My mom had requested one of the highest floors, which had a beautiful view. Putting my head against the glass of the floor-to-ceiling windows, I could see people as small as dots shuffling around the street.

While beautiful, this room didn’t help us get down to our Uber in less than 1 minute when it came. Before we knew it, we were dressed up and on our way to dinner before seeing Broadway’s Hamilton. Not even years of listening to the soundtrack on repeat could prepare me for that experience!

The theatre was filled to the brim. The crowd, who were all casually sipping on drinks and talking before the show, were now leaning forward to get a better look at the cast. Miguel Cervantes masterfully captured the anxiety and determination that riddles Alexander. His antithesis, Aaron Burr portrayed by Nik Walker, maintained a suave performance throughout the show. His slim physique, his well-tailored beard, his collected articulation all contribute to his masterful performance of the role.

The breath control and voice control by Kyle Scatliffe and Fergie Phillippe make these actors a power duo to grace the stage. Last but certainly not least, the vocals and emotions brought by Krystal Joy Brown and Mandy Gonzalez were spectacular. The show certainly did more than blow me away!

We finished the night by ordering the Brownie Explosion Cheesecake which boasted a richness denser than King George. We turned in for the night, exhausted, and went to bed with neon light leaking through the edges of our curtains.

The next morning, we walked the Whitney Museum of American Art galleries. The art was beautiful and worth the trip out of Times Square. Fair warning, though: the exhibits are tiered from greatest to least. So, if you like to save the best for last, I recommend starting at the bottom. Also, if you don’t walk down the metal outdoor stairs with overlooks and sculpture installations on every level, it may be considered a federal crime! Don’t forget to snap a pic while you’re out there.

Less than 24 hours after the show, my mom and I were back on a train back home, reminiscing about the best parts of the show. I couldn’t believe it was already over! My birthday hadn’t even passed and I had already celebrated in the most impactful way I could dream of. The day of my birthday, I wondered how I could possibly ring the day in better than a vacation that had already passed. But at dinner, my brother told me this, “Happy Birthday to the girl with a forehead that Megamind would be jealous of, with a mole on her shoulder that could take over the world, and who drives like each time behind the wheel is her first.” We brought our glasses together. I knew that sitting in that pleather booth, those words brought me just as much joy as the masterpiece created before me in my red velvet seat.

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