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再做一次大学新鲜人

A Freshman All Over Again
再做一次大学新鲜人

Belgrade Lakes, Me.

缅因州,贝尔格莱德湖。

Thirty-six years ago, my mother and father pulled up in front of a dormitory at Wesleyan University in a cream-colored Oldsmobile Omega. “At last!” my mother declared. “College!”

36年前,我父母开着一辆米色的奥兹莫比尔欧米茄小汽车,来到了卫斯理大学(Wesleyan University)的一排宿舍楼前面。“终于到了!”我妈妈宣布说。“上大学了!”

From the back seat, I glowered at her. Then I looked out the window and glowered at the ivy. It was clear enough: I was going to die here.

我坐在车后排,恨恨地看了她一眼。接着我望出车窗,又恨恨地看了一眼常春藤。事情再明显不过了:我肯定要死在这儿。
 

My father unlocked the trunk. It contained a suitcase, a stereo, a box of records by the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead, a leatherbound journal, a psychedelic poster of the cover of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” a copy of Coffin & Roelofs’s “Major Poets,” a three-legged milking stool and a bong shaped like one of the statues on Easter Island.

我爸爸打开了车尾行李箱。里面放着一只箱子,一部立体音响,一盒奥尔曼兄弟(Allman Brothers)与“死之华”(Grateful Dead)乐队的唱片,一本皮面日记本,一张关于《护戒使者》(The Fellowship of the Ring)封面的迷幻味十足的海报,一本由科芬(Coffin)和罗洛夫斯(Roelofs)编辑的《主要诗人》(Major Poets),一张三条腿的小圆凳,还有一杆貌似复活节岛雕像的大麻烟枪。

It still wasn’t clear how I’d snuck past the dean of admissions. I’d been rejected for early decision, then deferred in the spring. When they finally let me off the wait list in July, it felt as if admissions had accepted me out of sheer exhaustion.

我自己也没闹明白是怎么溜过了招生办公室主任那一关的。最早一批录取,我没上榜;然后被延迟到了春季招生批次。到了七月份他们最终才把我从备选名单上选了出来,这让人觉得,他们只是因为被缠得心烦意乱才收下了我。

We found my room, Butterfield A 132 B. There was a desk in one corner. My mother looked at it with tears in her eyes. “Right here,” she said, “is where all the magic is going to happen!”

我们找到了我的房间,巴特菲尔德A号楼132B室。房间一角摆着张书桌。我妈妈眼含泪水,上上下下打量着这间宿舍,“就在这里,奇迹将要发生!”她说。

An elegant, feline man appeared in the door. He had a shaved head. “So I’m Bruce,” he said. He pronounced it Bruuuuuce. “Your R.A. There’s Heineken in the fridge. There’s pizza in the lounge. Welcome to college.”

一个穿着讲究的男人出现在门口,他动作跟猫一样轻巧,剃了个光头。“我叫布鲁斯,”他说。他把“鲁”字拖得很长:布鲁——斯。“我是宿舍管理员。冰箱里有喜力啤酒。休息室有披萨。欢迎来到大学。”

Later that day, I went into Bruce’s room to ask for his assistance with something and found him handing an ounce of pot to an older-looking person, who in turn gave my R.A. a wad of bills. Bruce introduced me to his guest, a member of the college administration.

那天晚些时候,我去了布鲁斯的房间,请他帮点忙,结果发现他正把一小撮大麻交给一个看起来年纪有点大的人,后者递上了一叠钞票。布鲁斯向我介绍了他的这位客人,原来他是学校的一位行政人员。

O.K., I thought. So this is different.

好吧,我心里想。所以上大学真是不一样啊。

I’m thinking about all of this now because in a week’s time my wife and I are dropping our firstborn son off at Vassar, where he will begin his freshman year (or “first-year experience,” as we are now supposed to call it).

现在这一幕重新在我脑海里回旋,因为一周之内,我和我妻子(本文作者在2002年接受变性手术成为女性——译注)就要送大儿子去纽约瓦萨学院(Vassar),在那里,他将开始自己的大一学年(现在更多人将之称为“第一年体验”)。

After nearly 25 years as a college professor, I am at last a participant in the ritual of the station wagons. Don DeLillo describes the annual unpacking in “White Noise”: “the controlled substances, the birth control pills and devices; the junk food still in shopping bags,” and the parents, standing “sun-dazed near their automobiles, seeing images of themselves in every direction.”

我当了快25年大学教授,现在总算可以参与迎新仪式了。唐·德里罗(Don DeLillo)在《白噪音》("White Noise")一书中这样描述每年一度新生入学时打开的行李:“管控药物,节育药物和器具;购物袋里装着的垃圾食品”,至于新生家长,他们“站在车子旁,被太阳晒昏了头,无论往哪个方向走,都能看到自己的影子。”

Back in ’76, my parents and I had a dignified farewell on the lawn of Butterfield. My father, a reserved, diffident man, shook my hand. Then they walked away. I’d be home for Thanksgiving, and until then, I was Bruce’s problem. In some ways, that was the first and most important thing I learned at college — what life was like without them.

回到1976年,父母与我站在巴特菲尔德宿舍楼的草地上,庄严地道了别。我爸爸是个含蓄羞怯的男人,他只是跟我握了握手,然后两人转身走开。我要到感恩节时才能回家,在这期间我一直给布鲁斯添麻烦。在某种程度上,这是我上大学学到的第一件、也是最重要的一件事情——没有父母的人生会是什么样。

It’s different now. At Colby College, where I teach English, I see my students talking to their parents on cellphones — some of them three and four times a day. Occasionally, when things aren’t going well, a parent will Skype me. (“What can Charlie do to improve his grades?” one anxious parent asked me. “Fewer drugs,” I suggested.) Parents and children follow one another’s progress on Facebook. They post photos of the campus lobster bake on Instagram. They tweet. They text. They Tumbl.

如今一切都不同了。在我教授英语的科尔比学院(Colby College),我发现学生们常常跟家长用手机聊天——有些人一天要跟父母通三四次话。当学生遇到问题时,家长会在Skype上找到我。(“查理怎样才能提高成绩?”一位焦虑的家长这样问我。“少嗑药,”我建议。)家长与子女会在Facebook上关注彼此的近况。他们在Instagram上贴学校做的烤龙虾照片。他们发推特。他们发短信。他们也用Tumblr。

There are times when I want to tell my students that if they want to learn anything at college, their first step should be defriending their parents. Write them a nice letter, on actual paper, once every week or so, but on the whole: let go. Stop living in their shadows, and start casting your own.

有时候我真想告诉我的学生们,假如他们想在大学时学到点东西,第一步就是(在Facebook上)果断取消对父母的关注。可以给他们好好写封信,在真正的纸上手写,保持大概每周一次的频率,但是仅此而已吧:是时候放手了。别再活在父母的阴影下,开始投射你自己的影像。

But now I know exactly how impossible this is. Before I became a college parent, it was easy to come up with rules of disengagement for my students’ mothers and fathers. Now that I am one myself, I finally know what it is parents are going through — not just letting go of a child but of an entire chapter of their lives.

但现在我明白了,这一点几乎不可能做到。在我的孩子上大学前,我可以轻轻松松地要求学生家长跟孩子划清界限。而现在,我自己也成了他们中的一员,这才真正理解了家长们的感受——他们不仅要告别孩子,还要挥别人生中重要的篇章。

Late in the day so many years ago, long after I thought my parents had headed back to Devon, Pa., I went for a walk. I wandered around the brownstones for a while, stared up at the facade of Olin Library. I realized I was a long way from home.

很多年前的那一天,当我觉得父母已经开车回到宾夕法尼亚德文市的家了,过了一会儿,我出去遛弯儿。我围着校园里的几幢赤褐色大楼走了一会儿,盯着欧林图书馆(Olin Library)的正面看了看。我突然意识到,自己离家很远很远了。

That was when I caught sight of my parents, coming back from the president’s reception. When I saw them approaching, my first thought was, Oh, no. Not another farewell.

就在这时,我一眼瞥见了爸爸妈妈,他们刚从校长招待会上回来。当我看到他们向我走过来时,心里的第一个念头是,噢,不要啊,别再来一次离别。

They just smiled and wrapped their arms around me. I did not want them to go. I was not ready to begin this new life, in this new place, without them.

而他们只是微笑着上前双臂环绕着我。我不想让他们走。我还没准备好,要在这个陌生的地方,没有他们的陪伴,开始一段新的生活。

My father kissed me on the cheek. “You’ll be fine,” he said.

爸爸亲了下我的脸颊。“你会干得出色,”他说。
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