I have been offering henna for a while now. I am sweetly regarded as HennaKenna with many Wake Forest tweenagers. I love this! I’m so very honored to share henna and my art with people. I’ve been thinking about what I love about henna. I’ve always sought it out. I’ve always loved receiving it – even before I knew what henna art was I was drawing on myself, my sisters, friends, and later, lovers. I love the way a crayola marker feels and sounds on my skin – it’s like being softly touched and a physical trail begins, a sign that says, I’ve been touched by another. Not in a property branding way at all, but in a my friend is kind with me and my body – they want to share some art with me. And I want to showcase their talent.
There is a trust and lovely intimacy that comes with sharing henna with someone. It’s a connection that doesn’t happen with strangers – touching someone, being in their space and sharing their air. We shake hands and hug, but how long is that hug? When I sit with someone, I’m in it for a few minutes. We are strangers letting ourselves be comfortable with another stranger. There are social norms we are breaking by being this close to one another. We both try to let the other know that we are here and we are together. There is skin on skin contact, which we crave and many of us don’t receive. One PostSecret that always sticks out to me is a picture of public transportation bus and the secret teller told us that bumping into strangers on the bus was the only human contact they ever received. That idea – that there are people not being touched is very sad to me. I think we would be kinder to one another if we could just be close to each other for a few minutes.
When I sit with someone to share henna with them, regardless if they’ve asked for it or if I’ve offered it freely, they are telling me something huge, “I trust you. I believe that you will not hurt me, that you have my best interest in your heart, that you will be kind with me and my body, how I see myself and how I want to present myself to the world or certain people. I believe in you, your art, and art in general and I couldn’t think of a better way to be a part of my local community than to wear your art. Go ahead. I’m ready.”
I spent so much of my young adult life trying to be liked. When I figured out that I was loved by so many and I realized that it was because I loved them too – the world completely opened up to me. I’ve lived a long time being uncomfortable around people who exhibited affluence. I felt like I wasn’t really worth sharing the same space because I don’t belong. I think I confused my parents’ lessons in being respectful and serving others with being less important; subordinate. What I’ve learned in the last few years is that I am just as much as my fellow human being – that the trappings we choose or don’t choose do not determine our worth.
Sharing my henna art with others connects me with people from all walks of life. There really isn’t anything that could be more beautiful to me than a person I’ve never met, or known for years, asking me if I can draw on them. It doesn’t matter if we have $2 or $2000 dollars in our pockets, this is a once in a lifetime chance to connect with this person who is telling me to go ahead.
This is also a once in a lifetime chance for me to connect with a person who would really love to decorate his or her body – to feel different for a while, to feel beautiful and celebrated, to cover a scar, even if it’s just a little while. I will never be able to give the same art twice. I’m not that detailed an artist. Everything happens in the moment – whether it’s a baby in a belly swimming around, a toddler bouncing on the couch, a friend calling your name and you slightly turn your arm while I’m delivering a swirl. It’s all part of the design and the art that I get to share with people.
Henna is gorgeous. I’m getting better everyday. I need to apprentice. I want to get better. This is a talent and a love I have and I’d love to share it with you all.