Who Lives? Who Dies? Who Tells Your Story?

On the opening night on Broadway of the astounding musical Hamilton, I happened to be there in the street with my camera, bearing witness. In addition to the photo of the reporters and the woman in the yellow dress (both from that night) and a shot outside Hamilton’s touring show at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, the collage above features a small selection of other flag-and-country-related street photography I’ve taken these past few years. (Each one has a story.)

Last night, I finally saw the show, streaming on Disney+. Its wider availability is, without a doubt, the best thing that has happened in 2020 (in addition to the fact that my husband, both daughters*, and I are all together for the next month, which is our longest time together in years). I found it gripping to finally see the visuals that match with music I already know and love**.

As we face this leaderless July 4th holiday in the USA regarding numerous overlapping national and global crises, I am once again reminded to take control of my health, create my own access to public space where it doesn’t currently exist (despite my continual lived-experience-based pleas), and own my narrative as much as possible (including choosing who to trust, such as the creator of the Stories Connect People podcast). Answers to the quintessential questions Eliza Hamilton asks — who lives, who dies, who tells your story? — currently rest in each and every one of our hands. Rise up. Mask up. And ride to freedom with me on bike (you may find my free class helpful, as well as #BikeNoodle if you live somewhere simply too unwelcoming).

We are each Hamilton. We must never be satisfied with mediocrity and the gutter of failed imagination (see poems about each of those points in my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike). We must not miss this shot to create a better country, and world. There is nothing more American than that.

* Our younger daughter has been home from Boston since the beginning of March due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and our older daughter just arrived from Los Angeles. 

** Here’s another catchy tune: