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英语阅读在一起

作者:外语爱好…    文章来源:本站原创    更新时间:2020/6/16

英语阅读在一起
  要告诉新男友自己眼睛将会瞎掉,这没有什么好办法可言。我从所有的糟糕办法中选了个最好的。
   戴维22岁时刚开始写小说,我知道如果我以诗意的方式来描绘这个困境,他会被迷住的,至少叙述方式让他着迷。因此,我在黑暗中躺在他身边,把我的故事说得像哥特式的小说一样。
   我是这样开始讲述的,三年前,19岁,我发现我晚上看不见星星。这看起来是个很微不足道的细节,但其实是不可治愈的视网膜退化疾病的初始症状。医生说我会在10至15年内逐渐丧失视力——首先是夜间视力和周边视觉,然后就是中央视觉。
   我以积极的态度来结束这个故事:我是这样描述的,失去视力教会我真正地用眼睛去看。我要在振奋雷鸣中瞎掉,不要在软弱哭泣中瞎掉,我要在这十年里看更多的东西,比大多数人一生所看的都要多。
   那都是真的,但只是故事的一部分,美好的部分。
   我们才刚开始恋爱,我很紧张,想知道他会对我的坦白作何反应。他的回应大方而有诗意,恰似故事本身那样。
   我们下次见面时,他把我的名字写在了他的手臂上。六个擦洗不掉的小写字母印刻在皮肤上。我欣赏着这个纹身时,他说我照亮了他的黑夜,而他也会照亮我的黑夜。他说不管发生什么事情,我们都会一起面对。他会一直在我身边。
   我在大学的最后一个学期认识戴维,我们都是英语和戏剧专业的学生。我喜欢他因为他聪明而不显摆,幽默而不刻薄。他的坚定让我在确诊后首次有了安全感。
   他在一个南方小城镇长大,一直想居住在加利福尼亚州,但一直没下决心——直到我和他一起跨出这一步。
   在洛杉矶,戴维帮我通过试镜,我为他整理稿子。
   周末,我们把他那辆破旧的敞篷车车顶打开,开上太平洋海岸高速路,大声播放着音乐。我们都觉得,金黄色的山看起来就像沉睡着的狮子的背部。戴维单手开了好几个小时的车,另一只手紧握着我的手。
   我们在一起的生活非常浪漫,漸渐逼近的失明给我们更多的是祝福,而不是诅咒,因为它激励我们珍惜现在的生活。失明很有诗意,只因为它还没发生。
   实际的情况就是乏味、令人疲倦、混乱。它以让人吃惊的方式改变你,有些改变是好的,有些则是坏的。这与现实中的婚姻很相似。
   戴维把我的名字纹在手臂上的十年后,与哥特式爱情小说相比,我们的故事更接近雷蒙德·卡佛的小说风格——以最普通的方式消逝。第十年,我33岁生日那天,我在布鲁克林的门廊上独自抽泣。
   我放弃了表演,因为我已不能在漆黑的舞台和设备中辨认方位。我们搬回了我的家乡布鲁克林, 因为我开车很不安全。我们结婚了,有一个儿子,天真活泼,眼睛又大又圆。
   我很高兴我能分辨出这些细节,两年后我女儿出生,我也很兴奋看到了她圆圆的脸颊和弯弯的嘴唇。我看着他们眼睛深处的蓝色,看见这些变化让我充满了感激。但我同时也充满了恐惧。
   我女儿出生那年正是我确诊十周年的时候,那时候我的视力衰退严重,被认定为失明。我的视力像摄像机的孔径般缩小,只剩下极弱的孔状视力。
   我常常撞向人或其他东西:单杠、消防栓、打开的柜门。我还患上了白内障,这让我难以在儿科医生的办公室里填写表格,其实是根本看不到表格上的字。
   我一直忙于尽可能多地利用自己的视力,而没有做好失去视力的准备。我从不向别人提起我的病,包括那些本来就略知一二的人。
   我的自信心也少了,我不再穿高跟鞋因为我会摔跤,不画眼线因为我画不直,不看书因为我看不见印刷字体。我感觉我不仅仅是失去了视力,还失去了生活中的重要部分。
   由于我没有其他外界的帮助,这个责任就落到了戴维头上,他成了我隐秘的眼睛。所有这一切,还有抚养两个小孩的常见压力,都依靠着一场婚姻来维持。
   我33岁生日那天,戴维和我奢侈了一把,请了一位临时保姆,准备和朋友外出吃晚餐。我花了一个小时在一面放大镜前化妆,但戴维却看出来有点不对称。他送了我一本安·拉莫特的书,但我读不了。
   我们在步行至饭店的路上又讨论了是否要第三个孩子。
   我想要但又害怕我因视力逐渐衰退而不能照顾好婴儿。戴维说他听我的,但似乎很难做到,我们的资源(钱、时间、还有视力)很有限。
   半路上,我们的讨论发展成了争吵,最后,戴维怒气冲冲地走了,让我自己去聚餐。我停下来,蜷缩在最近的门廊上,独自抽泣。
   我并非感到无助,我可以自己回家。但我不能独自参加聚餐,我看不清我的朋友在哪,看不清菜单。我需要戴维,他讨厌这一点,而我为他的不满感到生气。
   我记得我跟他说过我要在振奋中瞎掉,不要在哭泣中瞎掉,他也说过不管是黑夜还是白天,我们永远在一起。我们似乎都错了。
   几分钟后,戴维那双棕色大靴子——他放在门口时我常常被它们绊倒,出现在我的视线中。
   “你不能就那样走掉,”我说,“我需要你。”
   “我知道,”他说。
   “我讨厌这样。”
   “我也是。”
   然后他握着我的手说,我们会想办法解决的。
   生日过后,我致电纽约盲人委员会,他们教我如何使用移动手杖和适应技巧。我使用了放大器后就不需要戴维来量孩子们吃泰诺的量和调温度调节器了。我用戴维送我的圣诞礼物——电子阅读器,可以轻松地阅读安·拉莫特的书。
   我重新获得了很多失去了的能力,并开始平和地看待我不得不失去的东西。
   一年后,戴维带我外出晚餐时说要告诉我一件事。他的脸在灯光下很模糊,但我能看到他的嘴在微笑。
   “我想我们应该再要一个孩子,”他说。
   我眨了眨眼睛。“但——”
  戴維握着我的手,打断我说:“我们会想办法的。”
   他语气坚定,就像多年前他把我的名字纹在手臂上时一样。他的信心助长了我的信心。我们再要一个孩子,这虽然困难却多么美好,我们会一起面对。
   There is no good way to tell a new guy in your life that you’re going blind. I chose the best of lousy options.
   At 22, David was a novelist just starting his career, and I knew if I framed my plight as poetic, he’d find it irresistible, at least on a narrative level. So lying next to him in the dark, I told the story like a Gothic novel.
   I started with how, three years earlier, at 19, I realized I couldn’t see the stars at night. This seemed like an innocent enough detail until it turned out to be the first symptom of an incurable degenerative retinal disease. The doctor told me I would slowly lose my eyesight over the next 10 to 15 years—first my nighttime and peripheral vision, and later, my central vision, too.
   I ended on a high note: Losing my vision, I explained, was teaching me to really see. I would go blind with a bang, not a whimper, by seeing and doing more in the next decade than most people did in a lifetime.
   All true, but only part of the story. The pretty part.
   Our romance was still new, and I was nervous about how he would react to my disclosure. His response, though, was as grand and poetic as the story itself.
   The next time we met, he wore my name on his arm. Six lowercase letters stained the skin, indelibly. As I admired the tattoo, he told me I had lit his darkness and he would light mine. No matter what came, he said, we would face it together. He was all in.
   I met David during our last semester in college, where we were both English and theater majors. I liked that he was smart but not pretentious, funny but never mean. There was solidity to him and it made me feel safe for the first time since my diagnosis.
   He was a small-town Southern boy, who had always dreamed of living in California but was never ready to take the plunge—until I took it with him.
   In Los Angeles, David helped me with my acting auditions and I edited his manuscripts.
   On weekends we lowered the top on his beat-up convertible and drove up the Pacific Coast Highway, music blaring. The golden hills looked like the backs of sleeping lions, we agreed. David drove for hours, one-handed, because the other hand was melded to mine.
   Our life together was a grand romance, and my encroaching blindness was more blessing than curse, because it galvanized us to live with urgency. The blindness was poetic because it hadn’t happened yet.

  In reality, it’s tedious, draining, messy. It changes you in surprising ways, some positive and some not. It’s a lot like the reality of being married.
   Ten years after David had my name tattooed on his arm, our story felt less like a Gothic love story than a Raymond Carver story: doomed in the most quotidian way. Ten years in, on my 33rd birthday, I found myself sobbing alone on a stoop in Brooklyn.
   I had quit acting because I could no longer navigate the dark stages and sets. We had moved back to Brooklyn, my hometown, because my driving had become untenable. We had gotten married and had a son, a long, lithe baby with beestung eyes.
   I was elated I could discern these details, and just as overjoyed to see the round cheeks and bowed lips of my newborn daughter two years later. I watched the color of their eyes deepen into blue, and seeing these changes suffused me with gratitude. But I was suffused, too, with fear.
   The year of our daughter’s birth marked the 10-year anniversary of my diagnosis, and by then I had lost enough sight to be deemed legally blind. My eyesight had closed in like the aperture on a camera, leaving me with extreme tunnel vision.
   I constantly collided into people and things: monkey bars, fire hydrants, cabinet doors left ajar. I developed cataracts that made it difficult for me to fill out forms at the pediatrician’s office or, really, read anything at all.
   I had been so busy making the most of my vision that I hadn’t prepared myself for losing it. I never spoke of my disease, not even to the few people who knew about it.
   My confidence had taken a hit, too. I gave up wearing heels because I fell in them, gave up eyeliner because I couldn’t put it on straight, gave up reading because I couldn’t make out the print. I felt like I wasn’t just losing my sight but essential parts of what made me me.
   Because I had no other resources in place for support, the onus fell to David, who became my surreptitious seeing-eye guy. All of that, in addition to the typical strains of raising two young children, was taxing on a marriage.
   On my 33rd birthday, David and I splurged on a sitter and planned a dinner out with friends. I spent an hour applying makeup in a magnifying mirror, only to have David observe it was a little, um, uneven. He gifted me an Anne Lamott book I couldn’t read.
   On the walk to the restaurant, we reopened the debate about whether or not to have a third child.
  I wanted to but was terrified I wouldn’t be able to take care of the baby with my failing vision. David told me he would follow my lead, but he didn’t see how we would possibly make it work. Our resources (money, time, and yes, vision) were already so limited.
   Halfway to the restaurant, our discussion developed into an argument, which ended with David storming off and telling me to go to the party without him. I stopped in my tracks, crumpled onto the nearest stoop and sobbed.
   I wasn’t helpless. I could find my way home. But I couldn’t go to the party without him. I couldn’t see well enough to find my friends or read the menu. I needed David and he resented it and I resented his resentment.
   I remembered how I had told him I would go blind with a bang, not a whimper, and how he had promised we would always be together in darkness and in light. It seemed like we’d both been wrong.
   Some minutes later, David’s big brown boots, the ones I always tripped over when he left them by the door, stepped into frame.
  “You can’t just leave me,” I said, “I need you.”
   “I know,” he said.
   “I hate it.”
   “So do I.”
   Then he took my hand and said we’d figure it out.
   Not long after my birthday, I called the New York State Commission for the Blind, which taught me how to use a mobility cane and adaptive technology. I got a magnifier so I didn’t need David to measure the children’s Tylenol or adjust the thermostat. I read the Anne Lamott book, easily enlarged on the e-reader David gave me for Christmas.
  I reclaimed many abilities I had lost and started to make peace with what I had to let go.
  A year later, David took me to dinner and said he had something to tell me. His face was hazy in the candlelight, but I could see his mouth breaking into a smile.
  “I think we should have another baby,” he said.
   I blinked. “But what about —”
   David took my hand and cut me off: “We’ll figure it out.”
   He spoke with the same certainty that made him tattoo my name on his arm so long ago. His faith bred faith in me. We would have another child, and it would be hard and spectacular, and we would be in it together.

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