Lost in Translation

There are few places I love more than my neighborhood nail salon. Now, you have to understand that I spent the first 26 years of my life biting my nails. So, in preparation for my first date with my husband, I decided to do something about that nasty habit of mine. I wandered into a tiny salon down the street from my apartment and spent $11 on my first manicure. Now -- three years, healthy nails, and a husband later -- I look forward to visiting the salon each week.

The sweet women who work there have become like a second family to me. They are all from China, and many have children and husbands that they are supporting back home. Despite our language barrier, we always find a way to exchange updates about our lives whenever we see each other.

A few weeks ago when I was in getting a pedicure, one of my favorite girls, Aimee, looked at me suddenly and said, "Jennifer, you pregnant?" I quickly laughed and shook my head no, cursing my beloved shirtdress for the awkward moment about to unfold. Aimee apologized and ducked her head, clearly embarrassed. Wishing to salvage the conversation, I quickly blurted out, "But we're adopting!" She gave me a quizzical look, clearly not understanding the word. I tried using an iPhone app to translate the word, but whatever it translated only led to a more confused expression on her face. 

I decided to try again. "You know, adoption... we'll take care of a child that needs a family." Aimee thought for a minute, then asked, "Your friend give you a baby?" The conversation went on like this for several minutes until Aimee was able to partially piece together what I was trying to explain.

She was quiet for several minutes, then looked up one more time. "But Jennifer, you don't want baby in belly?" I sat in silence for a few seconds, my head spinning, while trying to figure out how to tackle that question. Would I like to carry our future child in my womb? Yes of course. But is that an answer for the 153 million orphans who are quietly waiting for a family to call their own? No. Finally I just smiled and shook my head no. Aimee shrugged and returned my smile politely.

As I sat there trying to digest the conversation, a thirty-something-year-old man in cargo pants stood up from the chair beside me. I hadn't realized he'd been listening to the entire exchange. "Well, I think that's awesome," he said as he shuffled by. "Good luck," he called over his shoulder. A wide smile spread across my face. "Thank you," I said.