Chapter Nine

Back in the States, Noelle was annoyed. She’d been home for two weeks and was already over it. When she returned from Accra, a white man barked at her in the airport for tapping his luggage with hers, even though he was standing in the middle of the walkway. At the doctor’s office, a white woman stepped in front of her in line as if she were invisible. And that’s when it dawned on her that Ghana wasn’t just an amazing cultural experience. For eight whole days, it provided a melanated bubble of protection that racism and microaggressions couldn’t penetrate. 

She was especially ready to head back because she missed out on the last full day in Accra due to a terrible cold. There was still so much more she wanted to see and do. She shot Kofi a text: 

N: I’m going through Ghana withdrawal. I’m coming back.

K: I’ll be here whenever you’re ready.

N: I’m serious though.

K: I am too. Save money on the hotel and stay with me. I’ll show you the real Accra.

N: You’re kind of forward, sir. I just met you.

K: You gave me your ring size. Who’s the forward one, here?

N: Touché.

K: Not to worry, you can have your own room when you come. I got you.

Noelle was excited! She went to Google Flights to check out prices.

N: I found some pretty inexpensive flights compared to December. I can come for an extended weekend in February or in April.

K: Send me the exact dates.

N: February 12-16 or April 8-12

K: Oh so you want to come during Valentine’s Day…

N: I’m not looking at dates, I’m looking at cost! You scared?

K: Never. But let’s do April. Valentine’s is a bit cliché. 

N: Suit yourself.

Noelle paused. Was she really about to book a flight to Ghana, by herself, and stay with a man she barely knew? Yes, yes she was. She pressed submit to purchase the flight before she could talk herself out of it. This time, she’d fully appreciate a few more days in that melanated bubble.

Over the next few weeks, Noelle started to settle into the swing of things at work and catch up with friends. Albeit sporadic, she found herself looking forward to the texts and FaceTime calls with Kofi. When they did get the chance to speak, they bonded over music, travel and freedom for all Black people; although they debated over how to obtain the latter. Kofi was wise beyond his 31 years and Noelle really appreciated his perspective. She found their conversations refreshing, but with the five-hour time difference and a busy life, getting a chance to have long, in-depth conversations became increasingly more difficult. “There’s no way an actual relationship could ever work.” thought Noelle. “At least now I have a friend in Accra.”

Song: Back to Life x Soul II Soul, Carron Wheeler

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