(4) My Life: First Half NYC, Latter Half Paris

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Jan 15, 2017 23:31
Previously on this translation work: A young Taiwanese man had gone to work in NYC, thinking it was the best city in the world. However, a series of events changed his mind. Then, he'd noticed Paris and traveled to this city.

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Frenchmen knew better to have fun than Americans. There was a Paris music festival every June, when hundreds of open-air concerts were held at the same time at different places in this city. The subway was so crowded that its charging was suspended. On “La Nuit Blanche” (White Night) every October, those shops which closed regularly early operated through the whole night till 7 AM the next day. Every summer, the Paris Council arranged a 1.8-kilometer man-made beach along the right bank of the Seine. It possessed all that sea beaches had – soft sand, hammocks, sun loungers, palm trees, etc., which enabled those who couldn’t afford to travel to the sea to enjoy the beach-like sceneries.

However, the profound French culture wasn’t all beer and skittles. It also included reading. Americans read for license exams, while Frenchmen read for creating romance. In the reading festival every October, citizens took turns to recite poems on platforms at train stations in big cities. Bookstores operated till the dawn, and hosted live concerts the whole night. Cookbook exhibitions were held at stock exchanges - the most money-oriented site. In small-town book fairs, people climbed to pick the books off the trees like fruits before they could enjoy reading them. All these scenes touched me so much.

A French friend came to pick me up when I arrived in Paris in a November. I asked him, “What are you going to do tomorrow?”

“I’m going to a bank.“ he replied.

“Then?” I asked him.

“I don’t know what you mean…”

I suddenly got it. For me, going to a bank may be just a trifle after a lunchtime, but for a Frenchman, it was the whole task of a day. Unhurriedly and intently, Frenchmen tried to ensure their every single petty thing go well. This lifestyle, however, seemed effete to most Americans and Taiwanese people.

When I came back from Paris, Taipei remained unchanged. Only when I turned on my phone that had been off for two weeks did it start ringing. It was from a friend who would call repeatedly until it got through. Earnestly, he said to me, “Alright. You’ve quit your job already and have been to Europe. What’s your plan next? ”

PLAN? This word was so New York! “Live your life well. Isn’t that the biggest plan?” The words were on the tip of my tongue, but I didn’t say them aloud, because I knew it might sound quite affected – I was now standing in a bustling street of Taipei, and I hadn’t turned 40 yet. In addition, didn’t the leisurely French-style life I was living now partially attribute to the wealth I’d accumulated in NYC several years ago? In fact, I still loved to work. I loved NYC. I just didn’t have to blindly follow the crowd, always afraid to be off the track, as I did in my twenties.

Therefore, I blurted, “Well. I’ll get up early every day, and work hard to write during the daytime, but I think I’ll set my phone off at night.”

The world would be the same without me. The Sun would also rise. But, what if my world lacked me?

The end.
(4) 前半生纽约,后半生巴黎

法国人比美国人会玩。每年6月的巴黎音乐节,从午后到深夜,几百场露天音乐会在各处同时举行,人多到地铁都暂停收费。每年10月的“白夜”,平日入夜就打烊(close)的店面,彻夜(through the night)营业到清晨7点。每年夏天,巴黎市政会在塞纳河右岸布置(arrange, decorate)总长1.8公里的人工海滩。细沙、吊床、躺椅、棕榈树,自然海滩有的景致这里都有,让没有钱去海边度假的民众,也可以享受到海滩风光。

当然,法国这么深厚的文化,不可能只从吃喝玩乐而来。美国人读书,为了考证照,法国人读书,为了搞(create and do)情调 (romantic settings)。每年10月的读书节,大城市的火车站内,民众轮流上台朗诵诗歌。书店营业到天明,整晚有现场演奏的音乐。“美食书(cookbooks, gourmet books)展”选在铜臭味(money-stink)最重的证券交易所(stock exchange)举办。小镇书展的书直接“长”(grow)在树上,读者必须爬到树上,把书“摘”下来品味......我心动了。

11月我到巴黎,一位法国朋友来接待我。临走前我问他:“明天你要干吗?”

“我要去银行。”

然后呢?”我问。

“我不懂你的意思......”

对我来说,“去银行”是吃完午饭后跑去办的一件小事;对法国人来说,这是他一天全部的行程。法国人总是专心而缓慢的,每天把一件小事做好。这样的生活,对美国人或台湾人来说,实在是太颓废(passive, lack of energy)了。

我从巴黎回来,台北并没有改变。关了两周的手机再度响起,一通电话找不到我的人会连续狂打10通。和朋友见面,他很关心地问我:“好了,你现在工作也辞了,欧洲也去了,接下来有什么计划?”

计划?多么纽约的字眼!我真想说:“好好生活,不就是人生最大的计划?”但我知道在熙来攘往(bustling )的台北街头,在不到40岁的年纪,这样说太矫情(pussy)了。况且,我今天之所以有钱有闲享受法式生活,不也正因为我曾在美式生活中得到很多利益?我仍热爱工作、热爱纽约,但已不用像20岁时那样亦步亦趋(follow the crowd),寸步不离(keep closely)。

所以我说:“我还是会早起,白天努力写作,但到了晚上,我想关掉手机。”

世界少了我,其实无所谓。但我少了我,还剩什么?

(完)