I like to look at it while I'm driving or as I lay down at night - under the glow of my cell phone or laptop screen. I look at it and recall the color of the dirt in India - the decibels of sound that were reached during long and bumpy traffic rides through the streets of a land foreign and complicated and unapologetically vibrant. I gaze down at the fading color on my skin and have to swallow hard and fast to keep the tears at bay; dear Lord, I have to bite my tongue so I don't cry aloud, while looking down at skin that somehow feels wholly different now.
The henna on my right hand is fading. Soon it will be a distant memory - absorbed by the skin and washed clean by the soap. But what it represents - the place where I got it - I can feel it begin to nestle itself beneath my collar bone; it has taken up residence in the center of my heart.
I've started and then deleted the body of words beneath these three paragraphs a couple of times. They all just feel flippant and un-encompassing - no amount of creative writing training or diplomas from expensive institutions will be enough to help me write about India and what she has become to me.
Certainly no amount of flowery language or edits and rewrites will help anyone to understand the way a group of dark haired, dark eyed children and their singing laughter wrecked my heart for the better.
I am wholly sure I don't possess the intelligence, clout, or capabilities to talk about the way Jesus used a thirteen year old boy to finally stop my wild wanderings and whisper, "this is why you didn't get those things you thought were the end all, be all, my girl. I've been writing this, I've been waiting for this -- we've all been waiting for your arrival, here."
It's not within me to write about all of this just yet. I will confess my foolish nature and then let photographs speak as much as they can; India and the call to go there came at the most perfectly precise time. It was inconvenient, uncomfortable, and against everything I believed would make a better life. I boarded a plane on June 12 believing that what I desired for my life was the best there could ever be. I returned June 21st with the understanding that the happy endings for my life are most likely not anything or anyone I can see from where I stand - they are more life-shattering, heart-wrecking, soul-changing than what I was designed to comprehend.
The henna on my right hand has begun to fade, but the imprint of Indian soil, twinkling laughter, and the most unforgettable smiles have just begun to take root.