It was the typical concertgoer experience: packed trains and trams, fans wearing their Beyoncé shirts, and even Beyoncé-themed costumes. My daughter even rocked her "Formation"-inspired Afro.
The queues of people shuffling into the stadium hours before the start of the show were all making and documenting memories: taking pictures, fueling up on drinks and food, getting merchandise, jamming to the DJ's tracks and opening acts. All was well and we were having a grand ol' time.
I took my daughter to the show for the experience as she's a little performer herself — a lover of the arts. And as Beyoncé often mentions wanting her fans to be "inspired," I wanted my daughter to be inspired by one of the greatest performers of our time.
I had decided to purchase standing tickets due to the fact that we were going to have a blast, go crazy in love, get in formation and all that. However, my daughter became unenthused about tipsy stans. She was certainly given the talk about staying next to me during the show, even though she's old enough to walk around by herself. My concern was that she'd get lost in a sea of thousands of people filling the stadium grounds. And I can't help it — I'm one of those parents who's concerned about my child being snatched.
My concerns proved to be for good reason. In a split-second, I turned around and my child was gone — lost in the crowd.
I didn't panic at first because I felt like I was in an open area, completely visible; it would be difficult for her to not be able to find me, I thought.
But then the show started, and it was mayhem.
I couldn't get excited with the crowd while I didn't know where my daughter was. I went straight to the grounds team. At first they were like, "Um, I don't know what to tell you," sending me around to a few different security people. Finally, they got me to a helpful woman who asked what my daughter looks like, what she was wearing, etc.
My contacts weren't as sharp as my glasses, which I'd left at home, so I couldn't have the eagle-eyed vision I needed to find my child. I wanted to scratch them out with my almond-shaped nails right there on the spot. Making my vision even worse, tears started to well up as I was overcome with of all sorts of emotions.
This cannot be happening, and of all times. The worst thoughts ran through my mind. Please don't let my child be snatched! My mind even went to, Tell Beyoncé stop the show and let my child know where I am! Of course, I knew this wasn't going to happen (and personally, I would've found that embarrassing).
After the longest five minutes of my life, the security team said they had her. I was so relieved! She was crying and embarrassed, surrounded by lovely ground staff. I could not be more grateful — until they put us in the VIP section!
When they put our VIP bands on our wrists and escorted us to VIP, I nearly cried again. I was thinking, For real? It just felt too good to be true, like such moment was given to us by accident and they'd change their minds.
Nope! We got to the Beyhive, still a little shaken, unable to really get into the performance immediately, though the shock eventually wore off.
Like others had, I pulled out my iPad to document my experience, only be tapped on my shoulder and sternly told, "You have to put that away." Oops! Embarrassed, I put it away immediately. You know I wasn't trying to do or say anything to have this lucky moment taken away.
Apparently, only mobile phones could be used in the area, and of course my iPhone just had to be a lemon. Luckily, I was still able to make Lemonade. In hopes of getting the phone's camera to work, I deleted apps and images that I was hesitant to delete prior to the show, and I was able to get a couple of great photos.
We were close enough to touch her.
Beyoncé's hand and my daughter's hand missed each other by a fingernail. We were completely starstruck.
I believe that everything happens for a reason — rarely do I consider something a coincidence. I am super grateful to say the least.
We ended up getting stuck in Manchester, missing the very last return train by just a few seconds because of the concert frenzy. We discovered that all other options — coaches and hotels — were all overbooked. I couldn't believe this was happening; it looked like we would have no place to sleep. But then, in yet another stroke of good fortune, the Novotel team hooked us up, finding us close, affordable accommodations.
And Beyoncé? I have a newfound respect for this woman. I say woman because at that time, up close, I saw her as human. I know I, like many people, don't always view celebrities as real people.
"Queen Bey" is a title she has definitely earned and most certainly lives up to.