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“微公寓”,穷人生活的诗意说法

更新时间:2017-6-7 11:14:54 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

What No One Ever Tells You About Tiny Homes
“微公寓”,穷人生活的诗意说法

My husband and I share a 492-square-foot apartment in Cambridge, Mass. We inhabit a “micro apartment,” or what is sometimes called a tiny house. This label is usually proudly applied to dwellings under 500 square feet, according to Wikipedia. We are unwittingly on a very small bandwagon, part of a growing international movement.

我和丈夫住在马萨诸塞州坎布里奇一套面积为492平方英尺的公寓里。我们住的是“微公寓”——有时又被称作微型房子。按照维基百科的说法,面积低于500平方英尺(约46.5平米)的居所通常会被光荣地贴上这一标签。我们不知不觉置身其中的这波小小潮流,是一场日益壮大的国际运动的一部分。

But deep inside the expensive custom closets and under the New Age Murphy beds, the pro-petite propaganda has hidden some unseemly truths about how the other half lives. No one writes about the little white lies that help sell this new, very small American dream.

但在昂贵的定制衣橱深处和New Age墨菲床之下,提倡小巧化的宣传者藏起了关于你的另一半如何生活的某些不太体面的真相。没人在文中提及帮助销售这种新式微型美国梦的善意小谎言。

Here, on the inside, we have found small not so beautiful after all. Like the silent majority of other middling or poor urban dwellers in expensive cities, we are residents of tiny homes not by design, but because it is all our money can rent.

我们内心里明白,“小”根本就没有那么“美”。我们和其他中产人士或贫穷的城区居民一样,在生活成本高昂的城市中是沉默的大多数,我们住进小房子并非有意为之,而是因为我们的钱只够租这样的房子。

Tiny houses are booming. The movement, whose origins fans often link in spirit all the way to Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, became increasingly popular after the 2008 housing crash. Living small has come to signal environmental mindfulness and restrained consumerism.

微型房子方兴未艾。这场运动在2008年房地产市场崩盘后日渐流行——其拥趸经常在想象中将其起源一直追溯至瓦尔登湖的梭罗小木屋。住小房子开始成为环保觉醒和克制式消费主义的标志。

A tiny home is a state of mind, if not a religion. It is in vogue, and it is in Dwell. The tiny house pairs well with other contemporary cultural currents. It is cut from the same cloth as the Marie Kondo craze of 2014, and suits this year’s hygge, too. (The recently imported cult of hygge-ness — or coziness, from Denmark — often entails the burning of candles, wearing of chunky sweaters and a pursuit of togetherness facilitated by small spaces.) Micro living plugs into the age of Apple minimalism, too. In real estate listings, “cozy” is no longer an unconvincing euphemism, but a coveted catchphrase.

小房子即便不是一种宗教,也代表着一种心绪。它很流行,还登上了《Dwell》杂志。它跟其他当代文化潮流颇为相配。它与2014年的近藤麻理惠(Marie Kondo)热潮如出一辙,与今年的舒适风(hygge)也很搭调。(最近从丹麦舶来的舒适风,常常涉及点蜡烛、穿蓬松的毛衣,以及追寻因为置身于小空间之中而更加易于实现的亲密。)“微居住”还和苹果(Apple)的极简主义时代相联通。在房产信息中,“舒适”不再是一个不具说服力的委婉語,而是一个令人垂涎的流行词。

Our apartment in Cambridge was built in 1961, part of an earlier wave of utopian interest in tiny affordable housing. Our space occupies most of the lower third of a two-unit, three-story building. There is a contiguous row of nine such pairings — pint-size below, family-size above — on our street. The original developer’s vision was that income from renting the lower units could help cover the mortgage for the owners’ homes above.

我们在坎布里奇的公寓建于1961年,是早前的乌托邦浪潮在微型廉价住房领域留下的印记之一。在一栋分为两个单元的三层建筑中,我们的居所占据了一层的大部分空间。我们那条街上,排成一排的一连九栋建筑都是这样的组合式房屋——下方是小单元,上方则为适合全家人居住的单元。开发商当初的设想是:房主可以用下方单元的租金收入来支付上方房屋的部分抵押贷款。

The most striking feature of our small lives is the unavoidable, domineering presence of the plastic laundry hamper originally bought from Target in 2007. Embarrassing, ordinary objects like the hamper are empowered in small spaces; they become tyrants. In a larger home, this perfectly functional item might recede quietly into a closet or laundry room.

我们的微生活最大的特点,就是2007年购自塔吉特(Target)的塑料洗衣篮那不容忽视的霸气存在感。洗衣篮之类尴尬的寻常物件,在小空间里显得格外强大;它们简直成了暴君。在大一些的房子里,这种极为实用的物品或许会悄悄隐退到壁橱或洗衣房里。

Our unattractive $10 centerpiece occupies approximately 0.4 percent of our home’s surface area, but visually, it seems much larger. In an otherwise horizontal bedroom landscape (a queen-size mattress on the floor), the hamper looms high and white above the rest of the room. It often reminds me of the Capitol in Lincoln, Neb. — a piece of monumental architecture designed to dominate the prairie, to force man’s will over nature.

我们花10美元买来的这件毫无吸引力的核心摆设,占据了我们家表面积的0.4%,但就视觉效果而言,它似乎要大得多。在原本应该横向延展的卧室景观中(地板上摆着大号床垫),洗衣篮赫然高踞于房间内其他所有一切上方。它常常让我想起林肯市的内布拉斯加州议会大厦——一栋旨在称霸草原,把人类的意志强加于自然之上的纪念碑式建筑。

Glossy photo spreads on popular blogs like Tiny House Swoon make the small life look disproportionately good. Small houses have spawned a decent-size media subindustry. Browse Amazon for helpful tomes such as “Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building and Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet” and “The How To Guide to Building a Tiny House.” The big screen features small houses. You may try documentaries like “Tiny: A Story About Living Small” or “Small Is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary.” Or “Tiny House, Big Living,” the small-screen series, which is in its fifth season on HGTV.

通过“小房子大惊喜”(Tiny House Swoon)等广受欢迎的博客流传开来的那些漂亮照片,让微生活显出了不合情理的好。小房子已经为媒体业催生出了一个规模不可小觑的子行业。在亚马逊(Amazon)网站可以看到实用的大部头著作,比如《栖居于小屋:建造不足400平方英尺的小房子、过上幸福生活的创意》(Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building and Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet)和《小房子建造指南》(The How To Guide to Building a Tiny House)。小房子还上了大银幕。你或许可以看看《微小:一个关于微生活的故事》(Tiny: A Story About Living Small)或《小即是美:一部关于小房子的纪录片》等纪录片。或者看看《小房子大生活》(Tiny House, Big Living),HGTV的这个电视节目已经播到了第五季。

Tickets for the Tiny House Conference (“tiny houses, big conference”) in Portland, Ore., in April cost $349. The event featured inspirational talks like “Downsize Your Space and Life” and “Future of the Movement.” In Charlotte, N.C., you can hire a tiny house life coach to help with your transition.

4月份,俄勒冈州波特兰市举行了一个小房子大会(Tiny House Conference,会议主题是“小房子,大会议”),门票是349美元。会上有一些鼓舞人心的话题,比如,“缩小你的空间和生活”,“这场运动的未来”。在南卡罗来纳州的夏洛特市,你可以雇一名小房子生活教练帮你过渡。

There have been some skeptics. In December 2013, The Atlantic ran an article headlined “The Health Risks of Small Apartments.” The results the magazine reported were inconclusive. Small spaces may pose psychological risks to some populations, but not to others. Some of the experts interviewed by The Atlantic argued that age might matter. Micro apartments could be good for young people, like my husband and me.

也有人对此表示质疑。2013年12月,《大西洋》月刊(The Atlantic)刊登了一篇文章,标题是《小公寓的健康风险》(The Health Risks of Small Apartments)。该杂志报告的结果没有定论。小房子可能对某些人具有心理风险,但对其他人不会。《大西洋》采访的一些专家认为,年龄可能是一个影响因素。对于我和丈夫这样的年轻人来说,小房子可能是有益的。

Life in our tiny home is characterized above all by shabbiness. Like the apartment’s pervasive, undomesticateable dust bunnies, the threadbare feeling grows and grows simply because it already exists.

我们在小房子里的生活最大的特点是破旧。和公寓里无处不在、难以制服的灰尘球一样,破旧的感觉会不断增强,而这只是因为它已经存在了。

No one warns you that everything is more concentrated in a tiny house, that the natural life cycle of objects accelerates.

没人提醒你,在小房子里,一切都更集中,物品的自然寿命周期也随之缩短。

Our things are aging faster than they did in their previous homes. We sit on our lone couch more hours a day than in any previous dwelling. The cushions are fading, the springs sagging, the corners fraying. Our rug is balding along our daily paths, starkly revealing repetitive routines: back and forth to the coffee machine, to the couch, to the sink, to the couch. The denudations look like cow paths cut through sage brush — invasive affronts on the landscape. Everything in our tiny house is worked over more, used harder.

我们的东西比在之前的家里老化得更快。我们每天坐在那张孤零零的沙发上的时间,比在以前任何住所都多。垫子在褪色,弹簧失去弹性,边角开始磨损。地毯上,我们每天行走的路径被磨得光秃秃的,赤裸裸地揭示出日复一日的例行公事:在咖啡机、沙发、水槽、沙发之间往返。这些斑驳的痕迹看上去像是母牛穿过鼠尾草丛的路径——是对景观的肆意侵犯。在我们的小房子里,一切物品都被用得更废、用得更狠。

Here, even smells take up space. We once made a meal that called for caramelizing three pounds of onions. For hours the onions melted in their pan. Technically they were taking up less and less space, but somehow they intruded more. In a tiny house, the smell of slowly sweated onions is an inescapable, cloyingly rich aroma; a scent to drive men — and women — mad.

在这里,甚至连气味也会占据空间。我们曾经做过一种菜,要给三磅洋葱外面炒上焦糖。洋葱在锅里煮了几个小时,都快融化了。从技术角度来说,它们占用的空间越来越小,但是不知怎么反而侵占了更多空间。在一栋小房子里,焖煮洋葱的气味是挥之不去的,这是一种令人生厌的浓郁芳香;一种男人和女人闻了都会生气的味道。

The eau de onion spread to everything. It clung especially to the moist bathroom towels, and to the laundry drying in the bedroom. We were never clean again. Fresh from the shower, we immediately smelled of onions — of tiny house. For weeks, smelling like old onions became one of our micro lives’ certainties. The scent’s preferred repository, I eventually learned, was my New Age, polyester sports bra.

到处都是“洋葱香水”的气息,特别是在湿润的浴室毛巾上,还有卧室里正被烘干的衣服上。我们再也干净不起来了,刚淋浴完,马上就会被沾染上小小房子里的洋葱味道。几个星期之内,在我们微小的生活里,闻起来像一堆老葱头成了免不了的事。我最终发现,喷香水的最佳位置就是在我的New Age牌聚酯纤维运动文胸上。

“It smells like onion,” my husband had certified weeks later. “That doesn’t seem like a good thing to wear.” I said, “I can’t not wear it.” And that was true. I did wear it, but the bra’s coolly advertised moisture-wicking technology seemed designed to activate the old onions. I carried the smell with me deep into the city. You can never really leave a tiny house; it goes with you everywhere.

“它有股洋葱味儿,”丈夫已经言之凿凿地说了几个星期。“穿这件似乎不好。”我说,“我不能穿它”。这是真的。我还是穿了,但是胸罩广告上宣传的那种非常酷的吸湿技术,似乎是为了用来激发老洋葱的味道。我就这样带着这股味道走进了市区。你永远无法摆脱一栋小房子;它会随身紧跟着你。

For generations, writers have warned about romanticizing the lives of the poor. Beware the nostalgie de la boue. Small can be a bad fit.

多年来,各种文章都在警告,不要把穷人的生活浪漫化。当心那怀旧的沼泽。“小”可能并不适合你。

So we daydream big. Dreams of unfashionable, politically incorrect, old American aspirations that our generation isn’t supposed to believe in anymore. Dreams of design features so vast that they sound like foreign countries. I dream of kitchen islands. I dream outside this box.

所以我们都有对“大”的白日梦。这样的梦不时尚、政治不正确,是老一代美国人的渴望,我们这一代人根本就不应该相信。那些设计的梦想实在太过宏大,听起来简直像是在外国。我还是梦想有岛式厨房。我梦想能跳出这个盒子。

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