Chapter Seven

Noelle’s phone buzzed up while out at dinner. “It’s your New Year’s love…Kofi. Hi Ama.” “This guy,” she chuckled. “Ever so sure of himself,” she remembered as she put her phone back in her pocket. Her “New Year’s love” can wait. She was thoroughly enjoying the company of the new friends she made on the trip and their time together was winding down. Before they knew it, they’d be on long flights back to New York, Atlanta, D.C. and other parts of the country, maybe to never see each other again. Noelle wanted to soak up all the sisterhood that was formed in that short week. 

“Lol! Hello!” she finally responded to Kofi’s text. “What’s up with you tonight? I’m at a friend’s house party. Calm vibes. Would you want to come?” he shot back. Noelle was part cautious and part throw caution to the wind. She liked Kofi’s energy and believed she was a good judge of character, but Ryan would completely object. She decided to politely decline his invitation. “Just got back to the hotel from a super long day and I’m tired. I probably won’t be as social as I’d like. Want to meet for drinks tomorrow at my hotel instead?” She figured the rooftop bar of her hotel was a safe spot to meet. They set a time and Noelle fell fast asleep.

The next day, the group hit Coco Lounge for lunch and to their surprise, spotted the mother of all celebrity mothers! Just a few feet away from their table was Miss Tina Knowles-Lawson. The bigger surprise is that she was allowing other restaurant patrons to take pictures with her. “Kelly! We nominate you to go ask her for a picture!” said Eunice. Noelle was not prepared to play the “let’s pretend I’m Kelly Rowland” game with the actual second mom to her doppelgänger. She hadn’t consumed enough alcohol for this, but the group wasn’t taking no for an answer. “Whew. Play it cool, Noelle.” she said to herself as she walked towards the table where Miss Tina and a friend were sitting. The quick pep talk didn’t work. She walked right by them, out of the restaurant and into the ladies’ room. She checked her headwrap in the mirror. She never thought she actually looked like Kelly, despite friends, family and strangers saying otherwise. But today, she really didn’t think she favored her. “I wish I’d worn another outfit for today and maybe ditched the headwrap,” she sighed. She washed her hands and headed back to the table. She got cold feet again as she got closer to Miss Tina, but the group motioned for her to turn around. “Ugh!” she really dreaded this encounter, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to live it down with the group if she didn’t follow through. She turned around, as if she’d forgotten something and stopped in front of the two women who were examining the menu.

“Excuse me, ladies.” Noelle said hesitantly. “I really don’t mean to bother you, but my friends won’t let me return to the table if I don’t ask if you’d mind taking a picture with us.” Miss Tina, smiling politely replied, “Oh sure, no problem. Tell them to come over. We can take it now.” Noelle looked back at her table of 12 and then back at Miss Tina. “Umm…there’s a lot of us,” she said, gesturing at the group whose eyes were wide with anticipation. Miss Tina glanced at the table. “Oh, you’re right. I’ll just come to you all.” Noelle was floored. Miss Tina was not only willing to take a picture with the group, she was going to leave her seat, too.”Oh, thank you so much. I’m really sorry to interrupt your lunch,” Noelle said, this time looking at Miss Tina’s friend. She smiled as if she were used to it. Noelle took a sigh of relief and escorted Beyonce and Solange’s mama to her group of friends while mouthing “get up, NOW” to the group. 

As if on cue, the ladies got in formation to pose for the picture. “What a beautiful group of Black women!” remarked Miss Tina. “Where are you all from? The group shouted out different cities all at once. “Oh wow! And y’all came all the way to Ghana together?” she beamed as multiple phone cameras flashed. ”Okay, y’all. Let’s take this last picture so I can eat!” she joked. The group laughed, grateful for the encounter. “Noelle, if you ever want to come on another KLA trip, it’ll be half off,” promised Mimi. “This was perfect!” The group was on a high for the rest of the day.

Song: Interlude: Tina Taught Me x Solange

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