The heaps of disheveled clothes eyed we wearily. I turned back to the tiny closet, desperate for answers. I looked at the clock. We had to be downstairs in 10 minutes. "Just pick something," my husband said, "What difference does it make?"
Now I have never been someone who cared a great deal about fashion, but as the daughter of two Southerners the importance of "dressing for the occasion" has been drilled into me since the time I could open a dresser drawer. I wanted to look conservative yet playful. Sophisticated yet down to earth. Respectful yet authoritative. It was our first meeting and I wanted to make a good impression. I tried on another combination of clothes.
I distinctly remember what I was wearing when I first met my husband. A black cotton dress, black tights, with calf high black boots - I know, I know, but I was living in New York at the time and I truly don't think I owned clothes in any other color. That day led to a second date, and then a third, and then a commitment to a lifetime together. What would this day lead to?
There had been preparations, of course. Months of paperwork, emails, and official visits. We had packed for days, traveled for hours upon end, and left behind all we knew to be here in this tiny hotel room in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, China. But until this very moment I had not given any thought as to what I should wear to meet my child.
There would be Chinese officials, so I wanted to look nice. But not a dress. For if I was wearing a dress how could I play on the floor with my new son? Could I play on the floor with him? Or would we be sitting in some minister's office. "5 minutes," my husband begged. I pushed my thoughts aside.
I considered color. Black felt too empty. Red too overpowering. Yellow too bright. I pulled out another shirt. "Mother Mary wore blue," I remarked to my husband, "That must be a good sign, right? Blue must inherently be a nurturing color." He rolled his eyes. I put on the blue shirt.
I thought about our first picture together. We were told that after we met our child we would go for pictures. Our first picture would not be in a hospital bed, or in our home, but in a government building half way around the world. Again the strangeness of this journey hit me. The phone rang. It was our guide. "It's time," she said.
I grabbed the first thing I could find, a pair of black slacks, and the black boots I had worn when I first met my husband. I glanced at myself in the mirror. Was this an outfit of a "mother-to-be?" My husband grabbed my hand. "He's going to love you," he said. I took a deep breath and opened the door.