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我是年过40、没有孩子的单身女人,我过得很开心

更新时间:2018-7-21 7:39:13 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

I’m in My 40s, Child-Free and Happy. Why Won’t Anyone Believe Me?
我是年过40、没有孩子的单身女人,我过得很开心

A few months before my 42nd birthday, I was out to dinner with friends and found myself seated next to a well-known older male writer.

42岁生日的前几个月,我和一些朋友外出吃饭,发现邻座是一位知名且年长的男作家。

I happened to be in the final stages of finishing a proposal for a memoir about being a single woman over 40 without children, and was inwardly marveling at the timing of our encounter. I was a fan of his. Perhaps he might offer some wisdom? Words of encouragement?

当时我正在给一本书的创作计划收尾,那是一本关于一个年过四十还没有孩子的单身女人的自传。我暗地里对我们相遇的时机感到惊讶。我是他的粉丝。或许他能给我提供一些建议,或是鼓励的话?

As drinks were delivered I sketched the outline of the story: No one had prepared me for how exhilarating life could be on my own. I was traveling all the time, doing what I wanted, when I wanted, released from the fear of the clock that had dogged me through my 30s. Conversely, no one had warned me of the ways in which it would actually be difficult; my mother had been very ill, for instance, and part of the book was about caring for her.

当饮料被端上来的时候,我向他简述我的故事梗概:没有人告诉过我,独居生活可以如此兴奋刺激。只要我愿意,就可以在任何时候去旅游,做一切我想做的事,而且不再像30多岁时那样,对紧紧相逼的时光感到恐惧。但是,也没有人告诫过我这样的生活可能真正面临的困难。比如我妈妈病得很严重,书中有一部分内容就是关于照料她。

No sooner had I finished than the famous writer placed his glass firmly on the white tablecloth, leaned back and declared: “Glynnis MacNicol, you have a terrible life!”

我一讲完,这位有名的作家就把眼镜重重摔在白色桌布上,身体向后一靠,说:“葛林妮丝‧梅克尼可(Glynnis MacNicol),你的生活可真糟糕!”

Not exactly the feedback I was hoping for.

这完全不是我所期待的回应。

He continued: “You’re all alone in the world, and have no one to help you.” He turned to my friends, dramatically interrupting their conversation. “Do you know how terrible this woman’s life is? She’s all by herself!”

他接着说道:“你独自一人在这世上,没有一个人能帮你。”他转向我的朋友们,戏剧性地打断他们说话:“你们知道这个女人的生活有多糟糕吗?她全靠自己一个人!”

My friends managed to snort back their drinks, barely. “But I’m fine,” I protested lightheartedly, hoping to return the discussion to writing. “I’m quite enjoying myself.”

我的朋友们勉强在杯子后面哼了几声。“但我过得挺好的,”我随口抗议道,希望能把话题重新转移到写作上来。“我真的很享受自己一个人生活。”

He took a disbelieving sip of his drink. “I want to help you,” he said. He then instructed our server to wrap up his untouched steak and insisted I take it home.

他嘬了一小口饮料,对我说的话并不相信。“我想帮你,”他说。然后他喊服务生将他没动过的牛排打包,执意让我带回去。

He thought he was being kind, I knew, but that didn’t change the fact that on an otherwise perfect spring evening in Manhattan, I again faced a dilemma I’d been struggling with since turning 40: how to counter other people’s disbelief that I, single and child-free, could possibly be enjoying my own life.

我知道,他一定自认为自己非常仁慈,但这还是不能改变一个事实,那就是在曼哈顿一个本该非常美妙的春天晚上,我再次面对一个自我40岁起就与之抗争的困境:如何反驳那些不相信我虽然单身且没有孩子,但依然能过得很好的人?

It’s a particularly frustrating Catch-22 for 21st-century ladies of a certain age. If I insisted that I really was having a great time, I was a lady who doth protest too much (men never seem to doth too much in this regard). Politely allow the assumption that I was in a pitiable state, satisfied by the fact that I knew better? That just perpetuated the problem.

这对21世纪某个特定年龄的女性来说是一种第22条军规式的矛盾处境,令人尤为沮丧。如果我坚称自己过得很好,那我就好像太喜欢辩解了(在这方面,男人似乎从不会显得太喜欢辩解)。如果人们认为我处境可怜,我就要礼貌地接受,只是满足于我内心知道事实并非如此吗?那样做只会让这个问题永远得不到解决。

I encounter this type of disbelief frequently — and nearly as often from women, although rarely expressed in such a wonderfully direct way.

我常常面临人们的这种怀疑——而且来自女性的怀疑也一样多,尽管她们不会像这位作家那样直白。

A year earlier I’d mentioned to an acquaintance that I found it amusing that my married friends often expressed envy over my large new apartment — and that I live in it alone — and was gently told, “they were just being nice,” to make me feel better (I assume about the fact that I was alone). There was my best friend’s wedding, a few days after I turned 40, when, happily surrounded by my oldest, closest friends, I was assured I shouldn’t worry because “there’s still time.” (This from a guest to whom I’d just been introduced.)

一年前,我跟一个熟人提到一件趣事,已婚的朋友们常常告诉我,她们羡慕我能一个人住一套崭新的大公寓。结果这个熟人温和地答道:“她们是在说客套话,”意思是,她们想安慰我(我猜是因为我独身)。就在我40岁生日后不久,我最好的朋友结婚了。婚礼上,我开心地被亲密的老朋友们簇拥着,她们安慰说,我不必担心,因为“还有时间”。(这句话来自一个我刚刚被介绍认识的客人。)

Once, after telling a group at a party that I’d spent a month living in Paris, I was told that it was “nice that you can still enjoy yourself.” As if the fact that I was enjoying myself — by myself! With a baguette! In Paris! — was somehow heroic.

还有一次,当我在一个派对上告诉大家我曾在巴黎生活过一个月时,大家的反应是“你还能自得其乐,真是太好了!”似乎我能在巴黎,吃着法棍,自得其乐,这有多了不起似的!

For a long time I did brush these remarks off. Yet another unexpected gift of my 40s: just how little concern I have for others’ opinions about me. But it’s wearing thin. And increasingly I find myself frustrated by the belief that I, a reasonably successful person by most measures, do not know my own mind.

在很长一段时间里,我都对这些话置之不理。因为我在40岁之后得到的另一份意外礼物就是不再在意别人对自己的看法。但是这种感觉正在逐渐消失。尽管我在大多数方面还算是一个成功的人,但我发现自己并不了解自己的内心,这令我感到愈来愈沮丧。

Not long ago, a friend described my book to a group of women in their 50s and 60s. They started laughing, she told me. She asked what was so funny. “It’s just that your friend will change her mind about kids at about age 48,” they said. “And then there will be a scramble, and a sperm bank, and a tank will arrive in her living room. She’ll change her mind, that’s so clear.”

不久前,一个朋友向一群五六十岁的女性描述我的书。朋友告诉我,她们大笑起来。朋友问她们,究竟是什么这么好笑。“你的朋友一定会在48岁前后改变她对孩子的想法,”她们说。“那时她会突然想要一个孩子,她会去精子银行,然后一个箱子会送到她的客厅里。她会改变主意的,显而易见!”

So clear! As if I didn’t understand the consequences of my decision making. I suppose this should not surprise. As a culture, we seem to thrive on judging other women, whether it’s their appearance (see every best-dressed list, ever) or what they should be allowed to do with their bodies (cast a glance at the headlines regarding the precarious future of Roe v. Wade). We are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of women on their own, navigating their own lives, let alone liking it.

显而易见!好像我不懂自己的决定会产生什么后果一样。我觉得这没什么好令人惊讶的。作为一种文化,我们热衷于对其他女人评头论足,无论是她们的外貌(看看每次的最佳着装名单,等等);还是她们对自己身体的支配权(看看和“罗诉韦德案”堪忧的前景有关的文章标题)。我们对于女性能够独立生活并主宰自己人生的观念深感不适,更不必说赞同它了。

But, truthfully, it was the laughter that cuts to the heart of my diminishing patience on this topic. My life is full of deeply meaningful relationships that go unrecognized when people tell me “not to worry.”

但是,坦白说,正是这些嘲笑刺痛了我的内心,我对于这一话题的耐心正在不断消退。我的生活中充满具有深刻意义的亲密关系,人们在跟我说“别担心”的时候却没有意识到它们。

I have chosen not to have children, just as I have chosen to be in the lives of those around me. I am Auntie Glynnis to many — and have the framed artwork portraits of my hair and school photo magnets to prove it. I am lucky to live upstairs from my oldest friend and her children — I get to do school pickups and nap time wake-ups. I have two nephews and a niece whose lives I’m invested in. I attend birthdays, sports events and read them stories over FaceTime.

我选择不生孩子,正如我选择参与到周围人们的生活中去一样。我是很多人的葛林妮丝阿姨——这有画框里的艺术画像(画的是我的头发)以及压着学校照片的磁铁为证。我幸运地住在最好的老朋友以及她孩子的楼上——常常去学校帮她接孩子,帮她叫孩子们从午睡中醒来。我有两个侄子和一个侄女,他们的成长我都参与了。我出席他们的生日、体育活动,还会通过FaceTime给他们讲故事。

If close relationships make people happy, as research suggests, I’m lucky, and grateful, to be inundated with those. I’m, if not always the first, then the second emergency phone call for many friends (though when those happen simultaneously it can feel like I’m my own private 911 line).

如果正如研究表明的那样,亲密关系能够使人幸福,那么我感到自己很幸运,能够拥有这些关系,并且非常感激。对于很多朋友来说,就算我不是他们的第一紧急联系人,也是第二紧急联系人(尽管当他们同时有事的时候,我感觉自己成了私人911专线)。

I’m the confidante and sometimes the confessor, the Sunday dinner guest, the person overwhelmed with holiday invitations. I’m the emergency contact on school forms, summer camp forms, hospital forms and the school “Share Day” invite list. These forms may seem negligible, but like all paperwork attached to our major relationships, they outline a life of love and gratitude.

我是很多人的知心好友,也不时聆听他们的忏悔,我是朋友们周日宴请时的常客,也是会在假期收到大量邀请的人。在学校、夏令营以及医院的表格中,我的名字经常出现在紧急联络人一栏,我还常常出现在学校“分享日”的邀请名单上。这些表格也许看起来无足轻重,但正如和我们那些主要关系有关的所有文件一样,是它们描摹出一个充满爱与感激的人生。

In the past I have joked that I have actually come closer to having it all than most. But that’s not true, either. There’s no such thing as “all.” I simply have as much and as little as any other woman I know and look forward to the day when women — single, married and otherwise — no longer need the words “husband” and “baby” to act as a special lemon juice squeezed over our lives in order to make them visible.

过去我常常开玩笑说,我比大多数人都更接近拥有完美人生。但那是不可能的。因为没有一种东西叫做“完美”。我和其他所有女人一样,拥有的东西不多也不少。我期望有那么一天,所有女人——无论是单身、已婚还是其他婚姻状态——都不再需要把“丈夫”和“孩子”这样的词作为让自己的人生引人瞩目的方式。

Though that too is changing. The other day my niece declared, “I want to be just like you, Auntie Glynnis! Single and no kids.” She’s 7, and has never needed to be convinced I have the life I want.

尽管如此,社会也在改变。几天前,我的侄女说,“我想和你一样,葛林尼斯阿姨!独身而且不要孩子。”她才7岁,我从不用去说服她,我的生活正是我想要的。

In the meantime, I have learned to enjoy everything I have. Including leftovers.

与此同时,我也学会了如何享受我所拥有的一切。包括剩菜。

The morning after my fateful dinner, I removed the takeout container from my fridge, cracked an egg in a frying pan and enjoyed my extra-decadent breakfast. I suppose it’s fair to say I was having my steak and eating it too.

就在那顿对我的人生产生重大影响的晚餐之后一早,我把带回来的打包盒从冰箱里拿出来,在平底煎锅里打了一个鸡蛋,享用我的超豪华早餐。既收下了牛排,又吃掉了牛排,公平地说,我真是把好处都占尽了。

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