Two women, Shruti and Snehal, came to our house to do the henna—every image was done freestyle. They could create a pattern from a picture or produce their own design in minutes. No matter what design we picked or where we placed the henna on the body, they fashioned fabulous art. It wasn’t what I expected though. I’m not sure why I pictured paint brushes and ink that dries on the skin. Henna is more like clay squeezed from a small tube. When applied the clay rests as a raised line on your skin that you must let it dry. Initially, while it’s drying you can’t move. After it dries you can move around, but you keep the clay on overnight. In the morning what hasn’t fallen off, you rub off and voila, the intricate image is revealed stained on the skin.
I loved the whole experience. The smell was potent, like clay, but not good. I normally don’t mind earthy smells, but this was too pungent. Through the odor, it was spectacular to watch the design develop before my eyes. I enjoyed watching my friend’s six-year-old daughter attempt to be still, a seemingly easy task while the Shruti and Snehal were drawing on her, harder once she just had to wait for the henna to dry. Not moving was a challenge for all of us, but as adults we have just adopted better skills to move without braking at our wrist or ankle where the henna can smudge.
Henna and the Zentagnle are a great excuse to get some friends together for an afternoon and have an experience together. It’s like a Tupperware party or jewelry party except you pay for a memory.
Of course, like anything, it’s less about henna and more about the group of people who have gathered. We laughed. We talked about henna, motherhood (some of us have kids, some don’t), work, travel and concussions. One of my friends who has been a mother for six years years promised a newer mother that it gets easier, at least in some ways. I realized all the shared memories I had with this group of wonderful women.
I’d wanted to do henna for years, but my favorite part was just looking around the room, feeling lucky to have the friends I have—interesting, trust-worthy, fun, though-provoking, curious, and up for almost anything. So henna is great, but good girlfriends are better, which, ultimately, is what henna is really all about.