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更新時間:2019/4/24 21:17:58 來源:紐約時報中文網 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.

去年聖誕節後,我男友的子女和他的前妻在一起,他和我跟我的女兒一起,去一處陽光明媚的地方度假,遠離我們各自在蒙大拿的家。我們在一起有幾年了,有時候會讓我們的孩子一起生活,有時候不,感覺不需要(我不覺得?)用婚姻來定義我們的約定。

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.

這次旅行中,我們住的是一座空置的海灘小屋。在那里,我每天不是盯著海看,而是注視著廚房水槽上方木架上四只松散地擺放著的白碗。過完又一個飽脹的聖誕節,那些碗的簡潔和我離開家時的雜亂形成了鮮明對比。

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.”

但到假期結束,那幾只碗——從未使用過,自然也不屬于任何真實生活——已經在我腦中燒出個洞,以致于回家六小時內,我就已經扔掉了十幾只塞滿東西的垃圾袋,而我不過是剛剛開始。指引我的,不僅是那四只碗的樣子,還有一位老友的一句話——任何時候我問他需不需要再來份啤酒,他都會說︰“需要是個滑稽的詞。”

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.

我扔掉的東西與日俱增,直到某次趁著遛狗喘口氣時,我開始嘲笑自己。我的行為很荒唐,我丟掉任何不需要的東西,不是因為突然開始迷上了清理雜物,而是因為我在接下來一周安排了手術,我害怕。作為壓根不能出岔子的單身母親,我在竭盡全力讓自己不去注意眼前要冒的險。

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.

我在手術中喪命的幾率微乎其微——我要做的是子宮切除手術,但那不是重點。這只是我隨手丟掉不再需要的某件物品的方式。母親40歲時做了這事。我44歲了,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?

在幾十年前因癌癥治療導致輻射損傷後,她在68歲、我38歲時去世。我多希望能和她聊聊這一切,但大多時候,我都在努力讓自己一直忙著。我真是我自己的一個蹩腳笑柄。怎麼竟沒看出自己在做些什麼?

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.

結果,手術順順利利,我轉眼間也回到了正常生活。之後的一周,在公寓附近小徑上遛狗時,我拽出了一只球讓她追著玩。當我把球擲向附近一片積雪近兩尺的地上時,我手上戴的唯一一只戒指溜出了手指,消失不見了。

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.

我倒吸一口氣。戒指是母親生前給我的,我只在前一周做手術時摘下過它。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.

我害怕得不敢動,唯恐攪擾了雪地,心想如果有任何表面的下陷,無論多麼輕微,都可能揭示戒指墜落的地點。我給男友打了電話。又給照看我的女兒的一位朋友打了電話。我們三人一共給六家商店打了電話,在一家當鋪找到了一只二手金屬探測器。

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.

朋友開車載著女兒們去取機器。當時是下午過了兩點,離天黑只剩短短幾小時了。在等朋友帶著金屬探測器前來的空檔,一群父母、孩子帶著狗和越野滑雪設備過來了。雖然記憶有些︰,但我肯定跟他們說了丟戒指的事,因為我听到他們自言自語問是不是我的婚戒。

I didn’t answer.

我沒回答。

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.

另一位年長的女人帶著另一只狗露面,加入了滑雪那群人。她在大聲交談,詢問發生了什麼,而我在保護我的雪地不被他們的狗踫到,我希望他們能讓我安安靜靜地哀悼一會。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?”

滑雪的人離開後,那個女人走過來說,“是你的結婚戒指嗎?”

“No,” I said, too sharply.

“不是,”我說,聲音有些過于尖利。

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.

幾分鐘後,一個男人跑過,他和我眼神交流的方式讓我覺得他可能認識我——這是個小鎮——但我沒認出他。他停了下來,問我是不是都還好。“你看上去心煩意亂的,”他說。

“I lost my ring.”

“我丟了戒指。”

“Your wedding ring?”

“你的結婚戒指嗎?”

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

“不!我沒結婚。”我帶著掩飾不住的惱怒。

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.

我讓他有些不安。他那麼和氣。我當時實在太難過了。他走後,我盯著雪看。沒有戒指。沒有母親。沒有丈夫。連子宮都沒有!我差點就要陷入自憐自艾的泥沼。但事實上我對手術很滿意。事實上我愛我的生活,愛我的家人,愛我的男友。

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.

為什麼結婚戒指的假設總是令我發怒?度假時,我們見到的幾乎每個人都管我的男友叫我的丈夫。在海灘上和另一對夫婦聊天時,男友把我其中一個孩子稱作“我們的女兒”。我們需要結婚嗎?我不知道。多半就像我的男友喜歡說的那樣,我什麼也不想要。

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.

從當鋪弄來的金屬探測器是個臨時應急的廢舊品,上面用管道膠帶固定著電池,換作是很多天前,這樣的東西我是要扔進垃圾堆的。朋友打開機器,一點動靜也沒有。

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.

我漸漸覺得發慌又發冷。我留下女兒和朋友守著那片雪地,自己開車去買新電池,而這一次——半小時的日光又廢掉了——金屬探測器嗶嗶地響了起來。雖然金屬探測針沒動彈,但當我們往雪里丟了一美分,測試一下機器時,它又響了。太陽漸漸下山,我面無血色,但我們有了心跳。

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.

看起來,要我手上這一大塊廉價的塑料制造奇跡是不可能的,但我往雪地里慢慢走了幾步,把它在雪上掃動著。人群聚攏了起來︰滑雪的人回來了。我朋友十來歲的兒子和他的伙伴們到了。熱心的跑步者其實已經跑回家,沖了個澡,又驅車回來看我怎樣了——我消沉的樣子讓他實在放心不下。

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.

但其實沒過多久——15分鐘?——探測器就再次響了起來。我仍不大信;我想那是它踫到了我靴子上的金屬拉鏈。但那微弱的嗶嗶聲在一個地方響個不停,而當我蹲下,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.

我的淚水涌了出來。我轉身給人群看,他們大都是陌生人。跟他們講這枚戒指的故事,感覺有點奇怪,但到了這時候,畢竟他們也付出了自己的時間。

“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歲時我媽媽給了我這枚戒指,”我說。“她25歲時診斷出癌癥,醫生說她只能活一年。她那時甚至還沒跟爸爸約會過。他們訂婚時,醫生對他們說她也許能活五年。他們還是結婚了。在她50歲生日的時候,她辦了場盛大的聚會,但拒絕接受禮物。就在那天,她給了我這枚戒指——三道金環,分別刻著她、我和爸爸的名字。她18年後去世了。我從沒摘下過它。”

Now a handful of strangers were crying.

這時,有幾個陌生人在哭泣。

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.

我沒跟他們提手術的細節——那事實上是之前一周我第一次摘下這枚戒指。在去醫院之前,我把它放到了一個小盒子里。那是幾十年前我送給母親的,她去世後我從她的書架上取回來了。

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?”

我沒跟他們講男友怎樣在天蒙蒙亮的時候送我去做的手術,又陪我等候,然後取了藥,帶我回家,幫我上床躺好。我沒告訴他們他怎樣在我的孩子放學後給他們做飯,幫他們做好籃球練習的準備,讓他們不要來打攪我。又或者,當他前來詢問我是否需要點什麼,我說,“你能把戒指拿給我嗎?”

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.

我沒有提及他和我沒結婚的事實,或去解釋我有一天可能會想再次結婚——但同時我也什麼都不想要。兩樣都是真的。

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.

我沒有講述男友怎樣重新取回那個盒子,里面裝著不可替代的戒指,回到我房間,把它遞給我,或者我怎樣把戒指拿出來,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,但這個我不需要告訴他們。

Need is a funny word.

需要是個滑稽的詞。

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