The lights dim, the crowd starts screaming like sirens (myself included), and Beyoncé appears onstage. “Houston, I love you,” Queen Bey smiles serenely, eliciting even louder cheers from her fans. “ I love you!” In that moment, I know I have to leave the streets of NYC and make H-town my new home.
As a southern girl growing up in Florida, I always dreamed of moving to the big city and chasing my dreams in the fashion industry. Like every fashion millennial in the early 2000s, I had customized thrifted finds, an ELITE Polyvore account, and a sketch book of designs that were destined for runways. That, combined with my New York City blueprint The Devil Wears Prada, made it impossible (at least in my mind anyway) to fail on this new journey. But little did I know that actual city life was far from what I’d imagined. What I thought would be a place where I’d find like minded people turned out to be an environment that forced me to be constantly on guard.
Hustle culture was king. The price of everything was high, just for the hell of it. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the bad hygiene of the streets and the weird politics in NYC friendships. (It’s really hard to find good friends here for some reason?) Fast forward to 2023: I’m now in my late 20’s, fully over my EIC dreams and missing the comfort and hospitality of the south. So I decided to visit the city that is known for heat, hotties, and good eats — Houston, Texas! The cherry on top? Attending the Renaissance World Tour to see their homegrown hometown favorite do her big one.
Traveling to Texas to experience the icon herself meant that I had to be treated like one too, so without a second thought, I booked and boarded my first class United Airlines flight to the Promise Land. The care that the Houston-based flight crew showed made me feel like family; they even sent me on my way with a personalized gift and a card, wishing me a good time at the concert. This was honestly the feeling I had been missing while living up north, where the vibe is a bit less hospitable (understandably so). But I expected nothing less from the largest airline in Houston.
The warm hometown vibes continued as I checked into my hotel, The Laura. The staff was beyond friendly and accommodating, not because they had to be but because they really seemed to love what they do. That energy was most definitely transferred to me. To prepare myself for the greatness that is Beyoncé, I decided to treat myself to their spa, and baby? They didn’t miss! I could feel the love vibrating through the masseuse’s fingers, and each soft touch was almost as if she knew I was on the brink of a major life change. But this wasn’t the first or the last time during my visit that I felt the love and support from Black women. There might be something in the air in Houston; it seemed as though wherever I went, a Black woman was shouting an enthusiastic “okay, girl” or a heartfelt “yassss!” at every turn. These spirit builders pulled me into the culture even deeper by feeding a need in me that I didn’t even know I’d been missing all this time while living in NYC: support and safety. The thought of complete strangers being genuinely thrilled by my existence warmed my heart. At that point, I was sold. Maybe Houston could be a real home for me.
After feeling like a queen running through the streets of Houston, it was time to be serenaded by Motha herself at NRG Stadium. First and foremost, we have to acknowledge Beyoncé’s range. From the vocals to the (unreleased) visuals, to the overall artistic vision, this woman really knows how to provide her fans with a complete experience. Even though I didn’t get the Destiny’s Child reunion that I was hoping for (manifesting it for Act II), I did have the good fortune of seeing Blue Ivy hit her viral 8-count alongside her mama. And to make the night even more special, hometown hottie Megan Thee Stallion showed up and showed out — a privilege reserved solely for Bey’s two Houston shows. Megan’s brief but powerful performance of the “Savage” remix and the fangirling over Beyoncé that came with it reassured me that I wasn’t the only one feeling the synergy in the room. The entire stadium was in awe of the talents that graced the stage at once.
No exaggeration, the Renaissance show transformed me. You couldn’t tell me Beyoncé wasn’t speaking directly to me as the lyrics of “Alien Superstar” and “Break My Soul” filled the stadium. “Forever I’m that girl” and “You can’t break my soul." I didn't just hear her words — I felt them. These words are mantras embedded into my consciousness, reminding me that I deserve better in everything, especially in my quality of life.
All of the amazing moments in Houston that led up to the Renaissance World Tour really showed me the importance of your environment and how it can truly impact your experiences. I deserve to live somewhere that is comforting to my soul, where I can be seen and be safe with my community. And after this weekend, I think I might have found that. Houston, I’m coming home.