Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jadeite Wishes and Chinatown Dreams**

**Here's hoping that I got the pics up and solid. How frustrating!**

It was a beautiful day in San Francisco. The sky - bluer than blue. There was sunshine aplenty and the most lovely cool San Francisco Bay breeze.


The backdrop for this Chinatown excursion couldn't have been more exceptional....



...had I painted it myself.


About a month ago I was following along with Ms. EmmeLu's Mama while she shopped for jade in China. I've kept her story and her shopping tips in the back of my mind thinking that it would be fun to have the experience myself. I'd learned from my friend that wearing jade, especially on one's left wrist, was like a lucky direct-dial link to one's heart.

Lucky Chinese Connections In the Form of Gorgeous Jewelry...? Sounds right up my alley.

It must have really been on my mind because I impulsively blurted out during a small staff meeting at the office:

"I think that I need to buy a jade bangle"...

Yes, a little on the random side. Not the sort of thing I would normally mention at work, but it was said amongst a couple of very nice women that are aware of our lengthening adoption wait as well as the emotional side effects of a drawn out "paper pregnancy".

They call it baby brain, right? Imagine baby brain for over 13 months, with (hopefully not longer than) another 13 months of waiting ahead of you. It really isn't out of the question that any normal girl waiting in this long line called China Adoption might inadvertently start blurting out non sequiturs about jade, dimsum and the casualties of having been born a Fire Ram at the conference table, mail room or even to the pharmaceutical rep. If she'd listen, that is.

Ooops, there I go again....sorry. Baby Brain. Ahem. Now, where was I??


Not only did they not ridicule me for my non-work-related tangential comment, but believe it or not, by the end of the work day, one of my colleagues had arranged an excursion to Chinatown with a good friend-of-a-friend's mother in law for the following weekend. You see, not only does this woman know her jade - but she also knows some of the SF jewelers personally and apparently has quite a reputation for bargaining!

Really? For me? Coooool!

So, back to the perfecto day in San Francisco. Here we are:


That's Mrs. C, our wheeler-dealer on the cell phone. Isn't she cute? Shades hide her identity a bit. She is a very, very, very nice woman & treated me like a granddaughter. I'm taking the picture and the other women here are my friends who came along for moral support.

Check out the shine in this shop window:


A little blinding, isn't it? We went into several shops just like this. All of them required the jeweler to buzz you in the locked door. The message was clear - this is where the real stuff is kept. The genuine (or should I say jenuine?) jade lives there. Not that crappy-ass glass stuff, you know, those bangles that they inject dyes and water into. The ones that actually fade as you wear them vs. darken as authentic jade apparently does.

Fakes = $10 on the street, no buzzer necessary.

After trying on a few of those for reals pieces, I could definitely see the difference between the two. And, of course, I came to long for the beautiful bona fide, Burmese Jade. The really, really spendy stuff. The treasure behind the locked doors.

Maybe someday, but not right now. The pieces that I was shown were very expensive and that was with Mrs. C negotiating a super-secret, wink-wink/nudge-nudge, "very good" price for me. We're talking, at the low end, at least $600! When the jewelers realized that I could not afford even the bargain price, they didn't want to try the bangles on me. I'm sure that it was for fear that they might not be able to get them off of me. You see, those pretty jade bracelets take some squeezing, manipulation of knuckles and a bit of lotion to get on/off. Thank goodness the guys that helped me were very gentle and nice.

Ah well, there will be a next time.

Wanna guess how we drowned our sorrows?


Yes, we loaded up on noodles and jasmine tea. Mmm! Restorative and delicious.

Then Mrs. C took us to a teeny fortune cookie shop in a back alley. I've been to Chinatown soo many times & never had been there. What a trip. This lady wasn't thrilled - but I paid my buck & she obliged with her best "I (heart) tourists" pose.


She sure makes a mighty delicious cookie! Chocolate, too! Have you ever had chocolate fortune cookies - these were my first. Yum! Good Lord those cookies were tasty. Suuuuper tasty!! Thanks nice lady.


After stopping at a very cool tea shop and fabric store, we began a more sincere meander toward the car. We were surprised when Mrs. C stopped dead in her tracks at a busy intersection and suggested "one last stop". Here's a clue:


She led us into a bakery that initially I thought was a dry cleaner. We certainly would have walked right past because it was so nondescript. What a mistake that would have been! Moments after we walked out - the place was completely packed!


Mrs. C bought a box of fresh out of the oven, piping HOT custard tarts for each of us! A whole box!!!! Let me tell you, it was some kind of torture driving home in a cramped car with four pink boxes oozing their sweet flaky goodness. Those parcels were placed way in the back - far from arms length. Lucky for us, we'd already had a sample at the shop...

Even though I didn't end up coming home with a jade bangle on my left wrist this story does have a happy ending. I did come home with a wonderful feeling. I felt taken care of in a way that I never would have expected. Embraced and nurtured - and loved. By people that are genuinely excited about our adoption plan and who really would like to be supportive in whatever way makes sense. Jade shopping for me, this weekend, made sense. Makes me feel pretty darn fortunate, too. Lucky, even.

Ever since Chinese New Year, I decided that I needed to find the perfect Golden Pig - to commemorate the (possible) year of our daughter's birth. I didn't want one of those flashy, metallic ones or the personalized ceramic ones that you can paint yourself. Nope, we needed something fun & unique. Something that makes you smile when you see it.



Perhaps with the same vision, patience and tenacity - my jade bangle will be found...and my wait will be endured. Those qualities combined with meaningful, heartfelt surprises like the weekend's Chinatown trip should keep me moving forward.

28 comments:

isepa said...

Oh well, perhaps you will use those jade skills when you're actually in China.

And I do hope you paid that lady at the cookie shop $.50 for her photo as per her sign. Funny.

Stacey T. said...

I loved your post today. It was so well written, I felt like I was on the daytrip with you. The Fortune cookie factory is so amazing. You must go back when you have your baby, they freaked out over Ryleigh.

SBird said...

It's out there. I can feel it.

Shannon S said...

Your post should be in that Ad*ptive P*arent mag. This wait and what we experience during it is hugely important for all involved. I'm so glad you had some time to celebrate this journey.

walternatives said...

What a delightful day, sweetie. Love the pig - good choice! And your bracelet? It will find you, I'm certain. xo

a&mg said...

Great day! Thanks for sharing all the details. I wish we were closer to San Fran again.

Joannah said...

What a great experience! I agree with Stacey T. - I felt like I was walking the streets of Chinatown with you and Mrs. C.

:-)

Barb said...

I'm really really happy for you that you had such a warm experience and felt so cared for. That is such a respite during the seemingly endless wait. those moments are what make it all bearable.

I have been intrigued by the jade since reading singing bird's post about it, too. Now you have further educated me - still intrigued, thanks!

atomic mama said...

I like Shannon's idea...

And also jade. XO

Stacy said...

What an amazing trip. I had no idea that jade could be so expensive. How amazing it must be.

Mrs. C. sounds like a wonderful woman. Thanks for sharing your day with us. It was so nice to read about a positive moment in this wait.

Carolyn said...

What a great adventure! Thanks for sharing. You must have some lovely friends.

Colleen said...

Fantastic post! Wish I was there...(kinda felt like I was!!)

natalee said...

Oh! What happened to the photos?! I can only see the custard one, and it looks delicious!

Great story, anyway!

Mamacita said...

I loved this post. $600.00??? holy crap! I am really sad because for some reason I can't see your pictures!

Headmeister said...

What a fabulous day! And the way you went into such detail - like others have said, I felt like I was right along there with you :)

Avery's Mom & Dad said...

Oh I want a jade bracelet for my left wrist too!! Guess we need to start saving.

It felt as though I was walking along with you, oh how I love that city you call home. Oh how I love the Oriental Pearl in Chinatown. I dream about that place. One of my favorite places to eat in all of the world.


Sounds like you had a wonderful day, and you have wonderful friends.

Wish I could see the pictures

Mamacita said...

Yay! I can finally see the pictures! It looked like a wonderful way to spend the day! I will never forget when my brother took me to L.A.'s China Town. I was so overwhelmed and happy and loved to see and touch everything. That was at least 16 years ago. Maybe he somehow influenced my decision to adopt from China? Good luck with the jade. I liked the heart in the window. Did you see how much that one was?

Mamacita said...

Oh, I have a jade bracelet that is pieces of jade joined with gold clasps. Does it break the luck of the jade if you don't wear a bangle? Oh and a great way to get bangles on and off.....put a plastic grocery bag over your wrist, slip on the bracelet and pull the bag off. Wa-la! Reverse process is a little more difficult because you have to tuck the bag into the bangle before you can slip it off your wrist. Up side, you don't need to lotion up their bracelets!

Miss Cleo said...

Ah, love china towns.

new girl said...

OH MY GOD -- I am in love with ever minute of that incredible day you had! I'm just ready Stacey T's comment -- yes, I felt I was there with you, and I feel in the post how loved and cared for you felt. You deserve it!

(Who knew the jade bangles required such work? Well worth it when the time comes.)

Headmeister said...

I can see!!! I can see!!! lol...

Lisa M. said...

What a great day! I have been to Imperial Palace, my girlfriend who lives and got married in the City had her rehersal dinner there. I ate jellyfish and it was surprisingly good.

Tammy said...

Ahhhhh, what a beautiful post! My eyes are teary. You have wonderful friends! Could they have been any more thoughtful? Nope, think not.

BTW, the jade bangles in China are a little less expensive. At the Jade factory outside of Bejing, a salesman told my husband their trick for trying on bangles. Put a grocery store bag (you know, the plastic noisy bags) over your hand and up your arm - then slip the bangle on top of it, onto your wrist and voila - bangle on without lube. Works the same easy way when removing, bag over hand, tuck inside bangle & off it comes. Who'd a thunk? Remember this tip when you get your beautiful bangle.

Avery's Mom & Dad said...

I have to tell you now that I can see your pictures. That fortune cookie lady looks like either the meanest woman on earth or the most unhappy. I also must say that it doesn't look like the cookie shop would pass the health inspectors visit. I guess I better get ready for a lot of that when we are in China.
Thanks for sharing, wonderful picures, and I just love the face on your pig.

Kelli said...

Wow! I want to go to Chinatown in SF with you!! I think I started salivating when I saw the open box of egg custards (Dan Ta). Man I LOVE those things! Especially flaky warm right out of the oven??? ooh be still my beating heart....
Good luck on your search for a Jade bangle. I'm thinking that's something I will wait & pick up when I'm on the Baby trip to China- I see them every time I am there, but think it would be nice to buy two- one for me, and one for sprout when she turns 15 or 16 or 18 or some other momentous occasion.

Beth and Shayna said...

Yippee, I could finally get the pictures to show. Ah, San Fran I so cannot wait! And I cannot wait to see you. It looks like you had a blast and ate some yummy things.

Jessi said...

What an amazing adventure! So, so amazing. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Now I want some jade too. And custard. Yum.

Jonni & John said...

What an exciting adventure in Chinatown. The pictures are lovely. I miss SF!!! I have never been to a more perfect climate with the most awesome laid-back people including my 2 buds wzgirl & jzboy. Maybe there will be a surprise bestowed upon you one day from the great Jade Gods. Who knew that jade was that pricey? Maybe there will be a better deal while you guys are in China.

I love chocolate fortune cookies. I just had my first one about 2 mos. ago. They are off the charts good!

Hugs,
Jonni