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它不是我的婚戒,它是我唯一的戒指

更新时间:2019/4/24 21:17:58 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

It Wasn’t My Wedding Ring. It Was My Only Ring.
它不是我的婚戒,它是我唯一的戒指

After Christmas last year, when my boyfriend’s children were with his ex-wife, he and I went on vacation with my daughters to a sunny spot far from our separate homes in Montana. We have been together for years, sometimes blending our children’s lives, sometimes not, feeling no need (I don’t think?) to define our arrangement with marriage.

去年圣诞节后,我男友的子女和他的前妻在一起,他和我跟我的女儿一起,去一处阳光明媚的地方度假,远离我们各自在蒙大拿的家。我们在一起有几年了,有时候会让我们的孩子一起生活,有时候不,感觉不需要(我不觉得?)用婚姻来定义我们的约定。

On this trip, we stayed in a spare beach cottage where I stared each day not at the sea but at four white bowls that were generously spaced along a wooden shelf above the kitchen sink. In the wake of another bloated Christmas, the simplicity of those bowls stood in stark contrast to the clutter I had left back home.

这次旅行中,我们住的是一座空置的海滩小屋。在那里,我每天不是盯着海看,而是注视着厨房水槽上方木架上四只松散地摆放着的白碗。过完又一个饱胀的圣诞节,那些碗的简洁和我离开家时的杂乱形成了鲜明对比。

By the end of our vacation, those bowls — never used, not a part of any real life at all, of course — had burned such a hole in my brain that within six hours of our return I had thrown out a dozen garbage bags of stuff, and I was just getting started. I was guided not only by the image of those four bowls but also a line an old friend used to say whenever I asked if he needed another beer: “Need is a funny word.”

但到假期结束,那几只碗——从未使用过,自然也不属于任何真实生活——已经在我脑中烧出个洞,以致于回家六小时内,我就已经扔掉了十几只塞满东西的垃圾袋,而我不过是刚刚开始。指引我的,不仅是那四只碗的样子,还有一位老友的一句话——任何时候我问他需不需要再来份啤酒,他都会说:“需要是个滑稽的词。”

Every day I threw out more stuff until, while taking a break to walk the dog, I started laughing at myself. I was acting ridiculous, chucking anything we didn’t need, not because I was suddenly obsessed with decluttering but because I was scheduled for surgery the following week, and I was scared. As a single parent who simply could not die, I was doing whatever I could to distract myself from the risks that lay ahead.

我扔掉的东西与日俱增,直到某次趁着遛狗喘口气时,我开始嘲笑自己。我的行为很荒唐,我丢掉任何不需要的东西,不是因为突然开始迷上了清理杂物,而是因为我在接下来一周安排了手术,我害怕。作为压根不能出岔子的单身母亲,我在竭尽全力让自己不去注意眼前要冒的险。

No matter that the odds of my dying from surgery were minuscule; I was having a hysterectomy. It was just another way to unceremoniously throw away an object I no longer needed. My mother had done it at 40. I was 44, her only child.

我在手术中丧命的几率微乎其微——我要做的是子宫切除手术,但那不是重点。这只是我随手丢掉不再需要的某件物品的方式。母亲40岁时做了这事。我44岁了,是她唯一的孩子。

She died at 68, when I was 38, after radiation damage from her cancer treatments decades earlier. I wished I could talk to her about all this, but mostly I was trying to keep myself busy. I was my own bad joke. How could I not have seen what I was doing?

在几十年前因癌症治疗导致辐射损伤后,她在68岁、我38岁时去世。我多希望能和她聊聊这一切,但大多时候,我都在努力让自己一直忙着。我真是我自己的一个蹩脚笑柄。怎么竟没看出自己在做些什么?

As it turned out, surgery was a breeze, and I was back to my regular life in no time. The next week, walking my dog on a trail near my condo, I pulled out a ball for her to chase. When I threw it into a neighboring field filled with nearly two feet of snow, the only ring I wear sailed off my finger and vanished.

结果,手术顺顺利利,我转眼间也回到了正常生活。之后的一周,在公寓附近小径上遛狗时,我拽出了一只球让她追着玩。当我把球掷向附近一片积雪近两尺的地上时,我手上戴的唯一一只戒指溜出了手指,消失不见了。

I gasped. My mother had given me that ring, and the only time I had taken it off was for surgery the prior week. I couldn’t lose it.

我倒吸一口气。戒指是母亲生前给我的,我只在前一周做手术时摘下过它。我不能失去它。

I was afraid to move, lest I disturb the snow, thinking that any surface indentation, no matter how tiny, might reveal my ring’s landing spot. I called my boyfriend. I called a friend who was watching my girls. The three of us collectively called a half-dozen stores and tracked down a used metal detector from a pawnshop.

我害怕得不敢动,唯恐搅扰了雪地,心想如果有任何表面的下陷,无论多么轻微,都可能揭示戒指坠落的地点。我给男友打了电话。又给照看我的女儿的一位朋友打了电话。我们三人一共给六家商店打了电话,在一家当铺找到了一只二手金属探测器。

My friend drove with my girls to pick it up. It was after 2 p.m.; we had only a few hours of daylight left. While I waited for my friend to arrive with the metal detector, a pack of parents and children and dogs arrived with cross-country ski equipment. Though I was too dazed to remember, I must have told them I lost a ring because I heard them wondering aloud if it was my wedding ring.

朋友开车载着女儿们去取机器。当时是下午过了两点,离天黑只剩短短几小时了。在等朋友带着金属探测器前来的空档,一群父母、孩子带着狗和越野滑雪设备过来了。虽然记忆有些模糊,但我肯定跟他们说了丢戒指的事,因为我听到他们自言自语问是不是我的婚戒。

I didn’t answer.

我没回答。

An older woman with another dog showed up and joined the skiing crowd. She was talking loudly, asking what was going on, and I was protecting my snow from their dogs, wishing they would leave me in silence to mourn. There was no way I would find it.

另一位年长的女人带着另一只狗露面,加入了滑雪那群人。她在大声交谈,询问发生了什么,而我在保护我的雪地不被他们的狗碰到,我希望他们能让我安安静静地哀悼一会。我是不可能找到它的了。

When the skiers left, the woman came over and said, “Is it your wedding ring?”

滑雪的人离开后,那个女人走过来说,“是你的结婚戒指吗?”

“No,” I said, too sharply.

“不是,”我说,声音有些过于尖利。

A few minutes later, a man ran by, making eye contact in a way that made me think he might know me — it’s a small town — but I didn’t recognize him. He stopped running and asked if I was all right. “You look distraught,” he said.

几分钟后,一个男人跑过,他和我眼神交流的方式让我觉得他可能认识我——这是个小镇——但我没认出他。他停了下来,问我是不是都还好。“你看上去心烦意乱的,”他说。

“I lost my ring.”

“我丢了戒指。”

“Your wedding ring?”

“你的结婚戒指吗?”

“No! I’m not married.” I didn’t mask my exasperation.

“不!我没结婚。”我带着掩饰不住的恼怒。

I’d flustered him. He was so kind. I was so sad. He left, and I stared at the snow. No ring. No mother. No husband. Not even a uterus! How easy it would have been for me to dissolve into a pity party. But in reality, I was jazzed about the surgery. In reality, I love my life, my family, my boyfriend.

我让他有些不安。他那么和气。我当时实在太难过了。他走后,我盯着雪看。没有戒指。没有母亲。没有丈夫。连子宫都没有!我差点就要陷入自怜自艾的泥沼。但事实上我对手术很满意。事实上我爱我的生活,爱我的家人,爱我的男友。

Why did the wedding-ring assumption keep setting me off? On vacation, nearly everyone we met called my boyfriend my husband. Talking to another couple on the beach, he referred to one of my children as “our daughter.” Do we need to be married? I don’t know. Mostly, as my boyfriend likes to say, I want for nothing.

为什么结婚戒指的假设总是令我发怒?度假时,我们见到的几乎每个人都管我的男友叫我的丈夫。在海滩上和另一对夫妇聊天时,男友把我其中一个孩子称作“我们的女儿”。我们需要结婚吗?我不知道。多半就像我的男友喜欢说的那样,我什么也不想要。

But I needed that ring.

但我需要那枚戒指。

The metal detector from the pawnshop was a jury-rigged piece of junk with duct tape holding the battery in place, an item I would have hauled to the dump days earlier. My friend turned it on and nothing happened.

从当铺弄来的金属探测器是个临时应急的废旧品,上面用管道胶带固定着电池,换作是很多天前,这样的东西我是要扔进垃圾堆的。朋友打开机器,一点动静也没有。

I was getting frantic, and cold. I left my girls and my friend to guard the snow while I drove to buy a new battery, and this time — another half-hour of daylight wasted — the metal detector beeped to life. The metal-detecting needle didn’t budge, but when we tested the machine by dropping a penny in the snow, it beeped again. The sun was lower, I was drained, but we had a heartbeat.

我渐渐觉得发慌又发冷。我留下女儿和朋友守着那片雪地,自己开车去买新电池,而这一次——半小时的日光又废掉了——金属探测器哔哔地响了起来。虽然金属探测针没动弹,但当我们往雪里丢了一美分,测试一下机器时,它又响了。太阳渐渐下山,我面无血色,但我们有了心跳。

It seemed impossible that this cheap hunk of plastic in my hand might produce a miracle, but I took slow steps into the field, sweeping it over the snow. A crowd had gathered: The skiers were back. My friend’s teenage son and his buddies had arrived. The kind runner had actually run home, showered and driven back to check on me, unable to shake how upset I had appeared.

看起来,要我手上这一大块廉价的塑料制造奇迹是不可能的,但我往雪地里慢慢走了几步,把它在雪上扫动着。人群聚拢了起来:滑雪的人回来了。我朋友十来岁的儿子和他的伙伴们到了。热心的跑步者其实已经跑回家,冲了个澡,又驱车回来看我怎样了——我消沉的样子让他实在放心不下。

It didn’t even take long — 15 minutes? — before the detector beeped again. I remained skeptical; I figured it was picking up the metal zipper on my boot. But the faint beep persisted in one spot, and when I knelt down and poked my fingers into the snow, there was my ring.

但其实没过多久——15分钟?——探测器就再次响了起来。我仍不大信;我想那是它碰到了我靴子上的金属拉链。但那微弱的哔哔声在一个地方响个不停,而当我蹲下,把手指戳入雪中,戒指就在那里。

I burst into tears. I turned to show the crowd, mostly strangers. It felt a little weird to consider telling them the ring’s story, but by then they had invested their time, too.

我的泪水涌了出来。我转身给人群看,他们大都是陌生人。跟他们讲这枚戒指的故事,感觉有点奇怪,但到了这时候,毕竟他们也付出了自己的时间。

“My mom gave me this ring when I was 20,” I said. “She was diagnosed with cancer when she was 25 and told she had a year to live. She hadn’t even gone on a first date with my dad. When they got engaged, her doctor told them she might have five years. They went for it anyway and got married. On her 50th birthday, she threw a big party and refused presents. She gave me this ring on that day — three bands of gold, engraved with her name, my name, my dad’s. She died 18 years later. I’ve never taken it off.”

“我20岁时我妈妈给了我这枚戒指,”我说。“她25岁时诊断出癌症,医生说她只能活一年。她那时甚至还没跟爸爸约会过。他们订婚时,医生对他们说她也许能活五年。他们还是结婚了。在她50岁生日的时候,她办了场盛大的聚会,但拒绝接受礼物。就在那天,她给了我这枚戒指——三道金环,分别刻着她、我和爸爸的名字。她18年后去世了。我从没摘下过它。”

Now a handful of strangers were crying.

这时,有几个陌生人在哭泣。

I spared them the surgery detail — that, in fact, I had taken off the ring for the first time the prior week. Before leaving for the hospital, I put it in a small box that I’d given my mother decades earlier and then taken back from her bookshelf after she died.

我没跟他们提手术的细节——那事实上是之前一周我第一次摘下这枚戒指。在去医院之前,我把它放到了一个小盒子里。那是几十年前我送给母亲的,她去世后我从她的书架上取回来了。

I didn’t tell them how my boyfriend had taken me to surgery at the crack of dawn and waited with me, then filled my prescriptions, brought me home and tucked me into bed. I didn’t tell them how he cooked for my children after school, got them ready for basketball practice, kept them out of my hair. Or how, when he came to ask if there was anything I needed, I said, “Can you get me my ring?”

我没跟他们讲男友怎样在天蒙蒙亮的时候送我去做的手术,又陪我等候,然后取了药,带我回家,帮我上床躺好。我没告诉他们他怎样在我的孩子放学后给他们做饭,帮他们做好篮球练习的准备,让他们不要来打搅我。又或者,当他前来询问我是否需要点什么,我说,“你能把戒指拿给我吗?”

I didn’t go into the fact that he and I aren’t married, or explain that I may like to get married again someday — but also that I want for nothing. Both are true.

我没有提及他和我没结婚的事实,或去解释我有一天可能会想再次结婚——但同时我也什么都不想要。两样都是真的。

I didn’t recount how my boyfriend retrieved that box with its irreplaceable ring inside and came back to my room and handed it to me, or how I took the ring out and put it on my finger.

我没有讲述男友怎样重新取回那个盒子,里面装着不可替代的戒指,回到我房间,把它递给我,或者我怎样把戒指拿出来,戴到手上。

It’s not a wedding ring, but I didn’t need to tell them that.

它不是一枚婚戒,但这个我不需要告诉他们。

Need is a funny word.

需要是个滑稽的词。

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