A tightrope that my Spencer walked—and often found himself tangled in with ME dangling from his feet in frustration—was what was holy before The All Wise God versus what was acceptable in the organized church. Spencer grew up COGIC, and the list they adhered to, baby… my Baptist sensibilities would be taken aback! And you’re talking to someone born and raised in the rural conservative South, a Missionary Baptist, where hell was one sidestep or foot slip away.
I believe the thing about me that appealed to him the most was the general sauciness of my demeanor coupled with my ease at moving in traditional spaces. I have no problem leaning into laughter alongside drug dealers and strippers and rappers and bartenders while just as easily serving sweetly as bishops and pastors and board members sat in serious discussions. I knew how to be all things to all people for a guy who very much liked to get loose but also live a life that existed within the confines of religious community. It’s easy to do when you’ve got a spouse who matches your vibe. Marriage created a natural container for clowning when it came to Kisha.
You know, the marriage bed not being defiled and whatnot.
When Spencer met me, you can just about imagine the number of church inappropriate accoutrements I had in the form of piercings and tattoos and clothes as artwork for eye capture. Never stopped ME from serving the Lord, mind you, AND THAT WITH GLADNESS—but with the older set? My self expression beyond singing a hymn the new time way was quite often offensive and off putting. Not at all what the MAND-of-GAWDT needed from me in order to be great in the spaces he occupied and subsequently dragged me along with him into.
So as I had the girls, I lost the extra jewelry and covered my tattoos and for the glory of God by way of honoring my husband and his vocation. Not because I was ashamed of myself or my stuff—but because I loved my husband and that was just a quick easy way for me to yield early on.
As Spencer slowed down, and we came around the bend to nearly 20 years of messy yet memorable matrimony, he began to drop his not-so-subtle hints about things he missed. About us. About me. Things that would inevitably pop up? My hair (believe it or not he loved my short hair and enjoyed a long wig for purpose not none of your business). My nails (yes. The eagle talons that I have toned down over the years to be kitten claws). My more revealing way of dress (he liked what he liked the end). My BODY JEWELRY.
Chile. The eyebrows that went up for that. So you dropping hints about my belly ring? Where it’s gone go? You ain’t gone be able to see it with this middle age muffin top but okay?
So. I slowly began to oblige. Clothes first cuz clothes are easy, right? Eagle talons cost money but hey! We can invest in ourselves and show off these tattoos under the right circumstances for our old man. I HAD LITTLE INTEREST in new tattoos, but the idea of new jewelry didn’t seem too out of the way. That body jewelry stumped me for a minute tho. I’m too old for most of that even by my hippie standards. I don’t want no more eyebrow piercing. No belly rings. I have to go to the dentist too much for a new tongue ring. But maybe a nose ring?
So I asked him in December.
“Can I get my nose pierced for my birthday?”
Having steeled myself for the Lord to crack the sky and yell NO on Spencer’s behalf since that can’t be tucked away for the saints, can you imagine my surprise and delight when he looked at me intensely and said, “Yes. That would be really cute.”
SAY LESS SIR.
And then. Well. He put his crocs in sport mode for the last time and headed on out to be with the Lord the week before my birthday.
I went through that time. Did my duty. Fought off countless attempts to bail on everyone. Walked in the restraint gifted to me through the power of the Holy Spirit. Buried my husband with dignity and honor.
Then I sat.
Upset because I was excited to hand him back a piece of our little world that we’d lost—or rather lay down in pursuit of the work of the ministry. It hurt me deeply to have gotten to the space in life to KNOW when to ASK his permission because I loved him and cared about what concerned him in our relationship—only to have asked and not be able to share the result.
And sure. Certainly. You can make the case that it was for me. Maybe he said yes to appease me, to make me happy. But even then: look at how we had grown together. To consider the other more than ourselves and what we might want. Two stubborn self-centered people had begun to learn to make room for each other and if that ain’t what you want in marriage then why be married?
I went and got it done a couple of weeks ago after spending the day before weeping. It hurt a minute, and I welcomed the pain because it took the focus off my hurting heart. As I sat in my car, I called my friend Eboney. She asked me how it went and if I liked it and how I felt.
My feelings are complicated still. And I told her. I felt a sense of satisfaction and also. I felt sad because he was supposed to be here with me, seeing me and enjoying this moment with me. Complicated.
EVERYTIME I look at my nose, cleaning it, putting makeup around it? I want to cry because I want him to see it. To see me. Again. Just like HE liked.
That it’s. That’s all I got because I’m crying again.