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2019年美国大学申请书选登:关于金钱的五个故事

  We sort the money in our wallets by units of currency, dollars and cents, notes and COINS.

  钱夹里的钱,我们会按货币单位、美元和美分、纸币和硬币分类整理。

  But the money in the mind is much harder to organize, lost in mood swings, pride and shame, joy and despair.

  但头脑里的钱却难整理得多,迷失在情绪波动、傲慢与羞耻、欣喜与绝望之中。

  It's hard to deal with these feelings, so people don't talk about them much. It's even harder to write them down.

  面对这些感受挺难的,所以人们不太谈论它们。把它们写下来就更难了。

  Six years ago, I started asking high school seniors for essays on money, work, social class, or related topics. I soon discovered that we could clearly learn a lot from their writing, as they and their parents prepared to make perhaps the biggest investment decision of their lives: as much as $300,000 for a college education.

  六年前,我开始向高中毕业班学生征集关于金钱、工作、社会阶级或相关话题的入学申请文。我很快发现,我们显然能从他们的写作中学到很多,这期间他们和父母正准备做出或许是一生中最大的投资决定:多达30万美元的大学教育经费往哪花。

  This year's five essays show how rich the topic can be for writers who dare to write.

  今年的五篇短文告诉我们,对于胆敢提笔去写的作者,金钱这个话题可以多么丰富。

  The daughter of a plumber and a young man obsessed with garbage trucks took on jobs that few of his peers wanted. A dishwasher came home from school in the middle of the night with a study card in his hand. In an environment of aging furniture, a family becomes smaller and smaller. For years, a teenage girl in Minnesota has found herself a new role in an old sanctuary.

  一名管道工的女儿和一个着迷于垃圾车的小伙子干起了没几个同龄人想干的工作。一个洗碗工放学后半夜乘车回家,手里拿着学习卡片。在日渐老化的家具构成的环境中,一个家庭变得越来越小。多年来,明尼苏达的一个少女在一处旧避难所,为自己找到一个新的角色。

  Los Angeles,

  洛杉矶

  People coming out of bars or parties give me the usual looks, either because my clothes stink after a night of hard work or because I'm muttering to myself as I frantically flip through study CARDS.

  “刚出酒吧或参加完派对的人朝我递来惯常的目光,要么是因为辛苦工作一整晚后,我的衣服上发着恶臭,要么是我一边疯狂翻动学习卡片,一边低声自言自语。”

  -- Mark Isai Garcia  No more breaking dishes, understand?"

  ——马克·伊塞·加西亚(Mark Isai Garcia)

  I couldn't understand the broken English that came out of his mouth, but his frown was the universal language. It was a Friday night in Little Tokyo, and in the dining room outside, a family was enjoying a five-star meal while a 14-year-old boy washed their plates in the kitchen.

  “不能再打破盘子了,懂吗?”

  Wash the dishes by hand, then soak them in disinfectant, then put them in the machine, dry them, put them in the designated place, and then do it again -- hopefully without breaking a handful. But that night, a China plate slipped through my soapy fingers and broke into five pieces. I tried to stay calm, but my face was still red and I screamed, "why me? ?" As if screaming would make the dish return to its original state.

  他嘴里蹦出的蹩脚英语我听不大明白,但他紧皱的眉头是通用的语言。那是在小东京(Little Tokyo)一个周五晚上,外面的餐厅里,一家家人享用着五星级大餐,后厨里的一个14岁男孩在洗他们的盘子。

  The broken plate was just one of a number of worries I couldn't stop worrying about -- an Advanced Placement midterm in American history, a low grade in calculus, a eviction notice, my brother in trouble, and a dozen other relatively trivial but pressing concerns.

  先用手洗盘子,后把它们泡到消毒剂里,再把盘子放入机器、烘干,然后放到指定位置,接着再来——但愿别打破个把。但这个晚上,一只瓷盘子从我打了肥皂的指间滑了出去,掉到地上摔成了五瓣。我竭力保持冷静,脸却还是通红,心里在尖叫,“为什么是我!?”好像尖叫会让盘子恢复原状似的。

  For me, there was no calling in sick to gather my thoughts, no much-needed rest, no time to study before the test. I have to make ends meet. I shut my mouth and went on working, using all the strength I had left. I know what it's like to suppress your emotions -- the salty, bitter taste of every drop of sweat, immersing yourself in background music, muscle aches.

  破碎的盘子只是我头脑里不住按耐着的许多忧心事中的一件——先修课程(Advanced Placement)美国历史要期中考试,微积分成绩太低,收到住房清退通知,弟弟惹上了麻烦,还有十来件相对琐碎但也很紧迫的挂心事。

  It was midnight when the night shift finally ended. I caught the bus home, took out my notes and started studying. People coming out of bars or parties give me their usual looks, either because my clothes stink after a night's hard work or because I'm muttering to myself on the bus in the middle of the night, frantically flipping through study CARDS.

  于我而言,没有打电话请病假整理下思绪一说,也没法给自己一些急需的休息,或在临考前腾出些时间学习。我得贴补家用。我闭上嘴,继续工作,用尽浑身所剩的所有力气。我深知压抑情绪之苦——每滴汗水又咸又苦的味道,忘我地沉浸在背景音乐里,肌肉疼痛是家常便饭。

  I don't mind their stares at all. I'm used to it, but it's just another set of speed bumps on the way to my goal. I was tired of my younger relatives flashing gang signs, or my father coming home late at night with burns from his work. Something had to change, and I knew it had to start with me.

  晚班终于结束时已是半夜12点。我搭上了回家的公交,掏出笔记开始学习。刚从酒吧或派对出来的人朝我递来惯常的目光,要么是因为辛苦工作一整晚后,我的衣服上发着恶臭,要么是我大半夜在公交上一边疯狂翻动学习卡片,一边低声自言自语。

  Fortunately, I also know that I have dedication, desire and perseverance in my bones. My grandfather was the first wave of Mexican immigrants to settle in Los Angeles. He later returned home to a small rural village in oaxaca, bringing with him savings and tales of the land of opportunity.

  我完全不介意他们的凝视。这些我也都习惯了,不过是我实现目标之路上的另一组减速带而已。我厌倦了亮出黑帮手势的发小,啤酒不离手的亲戚,或爸爸带着做工留下的烧伤深夜回家。必须做出点改变,而我知道,这种改变需要由我开始。

  His parents left oaxaca when they were teenagers and began working around the clock in Los Angeles as cooks and housekeepers. From the corn fields of oaxaca to the restaurants of Los Angeles to the classrooms, I've passed on that resilience from generation to generation, allowing me to take school and work in my stride.

  幸运的是,我也知道我骨子里有奉献、渴望和毅力。祖父是第一波在洛杉矶定居的墨西哥移民。他后来回了瓦哈卡州乡下小村子里的家,带着积蓄和这个机遇之邦的传说。

  In this evening, I walked into the house, inadvertently saw a let me happy accident: hard all day long mother in waiting for me to go home fell asleep. I stuffed the tip I had received that night into her purse and turned off the TV.

  父母十来岁便离开瓦哈卡州,开始在洛杉矶没日没夜地工作,做厨师和家政。从瓦哈卡州的玉米田到洛杉矶的餐馆再到教室,这种吃苦耐劳代代相传,让我得以从容应对学业和工作。

  I stared at my brothers and sisters who had fallen into sweet dreams in their bedrooms. Watching them snore and breathe slowly, I yawned and found myself exhausted. But I won't rest with them until later. I have a composition due tomorrow morning, and Mr. Depaulo doesn't accept late assignments.

  就在这个晚上,我走进家门,无意间看到了一个让我欣慰的意外:辛劳了一整天的母亲在等我回家时睡着了。我把当晚拿到的小费塞到她的钱夹里,关掉了电视。

  Milwaukee.

  我凝视着卧室里沉入甜美梦乡的兄弟姐妹。看到他们轻轻打鼾、缓缓呼吸的样子,我禁不住打了个哈欠,这才发现自己已经筋疲力竭。可是,我要过会才能和他们一道休息。我还有篇作文明早要交,德保罗老师可不接受不按时交作业。

  Life is a process of accepting chaos and learning to clean it up.

  密尔沃基

  -- Kelley Schlise  Not many 17-year-old girls know how to weld two copper pipes together or light an open fire on a water heater. I would venture to say that most people don't know the difference between a normal 90-degree PVC bend and a 90-degree male and female bend.  These are the skills and traits I've learned over the past five years as an assistant in my father's personal plumbing business, a summer job that often involves dealing with a physically and mentally uncomfortable mess and requires a tough, graceful attitude that I often struggle to cope with. But I persevered. I am the plumber's daughter and his helper.  Every damp morning, I struggle to fit into a pair of men's jeans from Goodwill that most people my age don't want to wear in public. I hung the tape measure from my belt, hastily braided my hair as I ran out the door and climbed into the passenger seat of the plumber's construction truck. It was an old white minivan with two pipes attached to its roof.  While my peers worked part-time as babysitters, lifeguards or grocery counts, I helped dad lug heavy toolkits and heavy saws deep into people's houses. Although I sometimes worked in the gold-plated master bathroom of the lake-view mansion, we were often in the damp, moldy basement, where I had to search for my meter among the labyrinth of storage boxes.  Five summers fixing pipes in Milwaukee taught me that the messy part of a house reflects the messy part of a person's life. Dad and I often make a mess, too. He cut through the walls with a heavy reciprocating saw, and the air was filled with a cloud of plaster. Sometimes there were no walls at all, and we had to work in a primeval jungle of fiberglass insulation, floor joists and rusty cast-iron risers.  Again and again I skipped over piles of tangled wrenches and extension cords; The nose and mouth were covered with thick dust; His jeans were covered in pipe paint and his hands were black from a hard day's work. I looked at the chaos around me, and it rose within me. Nothing beautiful or neat; Everything was ugly. I felt powerless, frustrated and unable to think properly.  Plumbing is a microcosm of a chaotic world, and sometimes I hate it. I asked myself why I had to go out and put up with the dust and sweat when I could have stayed in my air-conditioned room, vacuumed my bedroom, made avocado toast for breakfast and finished my summer homework early. I could even find another job, one that was more like the average job my peers do.  However, just as I hate messy plumbing, I also hate being affected by these little upsets and being so easily annoyed by chaos. After all, the world was built by people who were willing to get their hands dirty.  When I think about it, I deal with chaos all the time. As a teenager, the uncertainties and contradictions in my mind were far more complex than any extension, but I was always trying to sort them out. Life is a process of accepting chaos and learning to clean it up, and plumbing is no exception.  Not only did dad and I create chaos, we created order, and with careful observation, I could find order in every new array of welded copper tubes, in the neatly lined toolbox in the back of dad's van. In addition, when clients thank us for our work, I understand that we bring order to their lives in small places. The physical and mental discomfort of plumbing is worth it.  Potsville, Pennsylvania  My dad's first words were, 'hug her, you won't hurt her now. '"

纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

  “生活就是一个接受混乱并且学会清理的过程。”

  -- Victoria Oswald  Much of my kitchen is occupied by my old, scruffy, warm brown table.  Its condition has been appalling. Every time I sat down, I was surrounded by crumbs of old paint, hot sols and the occasional bit of nail polish (thanks to my sisters). We had two chairs, and I had to be extra careful which one I sat on would fall apart, because the legs were held in place by an annoying mixture of wood glue, brute force and pure malpractice.  For the first half of my life, this kitchen table was the center of my home. When I was a child, we (my grandmother, my father and my two sisters) would have a meal cooked by my grandmother at exactly 7 PM at this old, scruffy, warm brown table.  At those family dinners, I'd have fun arguing with my dad, watching him get yelled at by my grandmother for interrupting my dinner, and listening to my sisters fight or joke; It was always an adventure. Originally, my kitchen table had five sturdy wooden chairs. A few years later, when my eldest sister was 16 and I was 8, the number of chairs dropped to four as she moved away. She had too many arguments with her grandmother and was out of line, so she left.  Three years later, grandma was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer. This brings some changes to our evening table routine. At first it was my other sister who stopped coming to dinner. It's not that the food is inevitably less delicious (cancer destroys taste buds and overall cooking), but that she's always away. I don't think she wants to be with her grandmother after she was diagnosed with cancer.  The number of chairs dropped to three. After a year or so, dinner itself was much less frequent, not mainly because of grandma, but because dad was determined to let grandma rest more. She ignored dad's concerns, so it turned out to be some sort of gray area I had to deal with.  Grandma died of cancer a year and a half later. It was a quick sentence, but it took a long time. Don't get me wrong, I love grandma, but people with cancer often die long before they die.  I was there when she died, in our living room. I was on one side of the bed and my dad was on the other. Her heavy breathing slackened and then stopped. It sounds sad, but it's actually kind of a comforting moment. The first thing dad said was hug her, you won't hurt her now." Despite the smell of phlegm, I hugged her. We only need two chairs.

  ——凯莉·施利斯(Kelley Schlise)

  After that, dad and I, and the rest of our unconventional American family, formed an extraordinarily unconventional one. It took us a while to settle down, because frankly, we were low-income before grandma got cancer, and then it got worse.

  没有几个17岁的女孩知道怎么把两根铜管焊在一起,或者点燃热水器的长明火。我敢说,大多数人分不清90度普通PVC弯头和90度公母弯头。

  Dad and I cut everything down. We got rid of cable TV, cell phones and the Internet. We used less oil, less water, less food, and we didn't have a car for a while because our van was so gas-guzzling and often broke down. But even though it was a year of no wi-fi, no cell phones, and just plain boring, we made it through.

  这些技能和特点都是过去五年里我为父亲的个人管道业务担任助理时学到的,这份暑期工经常需要处理给身体和精神带来不适的烂摊子,而且需要坚韧和优雅的态度,我往往很难应付得来。不过我坚持下来了。我是管道工的女儿,也是管道工的帮手。

  I still live in the same house, only now I have wi-fi. Our table was still there, but we took out the middle piece of wood, and now it's just big enough for both of us. We didn't have dinner like we used to, but sometimes dad and I would sit on the couch and chat.

  每个潮湿的早晨,我都要勉强穿上一条Goodwill慈善二手店里买来的男式牛仔裤,大多数同龄人都不愿意在公共场合穿成这样。我把卷尺挂在腰带上,跑出家门时匆匆把头发束成辫子,爬上管道工施工车的副驾驶座。这是一辆有年头的白色小面包车,车顶绑着两种管子。

  Of course, our coffee table chat may not be the same as our family dinner, or our TV may not work. Maybe we have ants in the kitchen, maybe we have to listen to the Super Bowl on the old '90s radio, or maybe dad is getting sicker.

  我的同龄人当兼职保姆、救生员或者清点杂货的时候,我帮着爸爸把笨重的工具箱和重型锯子拖到人们房子的深处。虽然有时也在湖景豪宅的镀金主浴室里干活,但我们往往还是在潮湿发霉的地下室里,我得在迷宫般的储物箱之间找水表。

  I don't care if my new life revolves around an old sofa with holes in it, a grumpy old man, a pair of fat cats and a maned lizard. I was content with my father; Every night at seven o 'clock, I am content to find two empty chairs around the dusty, warm brown old kitchen table in the dingy kitchen. These days, the living room light is on.

  在密尔沃基修理管道的五个夏天让我明白,房子里凌乱的部分反映出人们生活中凌乱的部分。爸爸和我也经常弄得一团糟。他用重型往复锯切割墙壁,空气里弥漫着灰泥的云雾。有时根本没有墙,我们得在玻璃纤维隔热层、楼板搁栅和生锈的铸铁立管的原始丛林中工作。

  San Diego,

  我一次又一次地跳过一堆堆杂乱的扳手和延长线;鼻子和嘴上蒙着厚厚的灰尘;牛仔裤上沾满管道涂料,双手也因为一整天的辛苦工作而变得黑乎乎的。我打量着周围的混乱情景,混乱也在我内心升起。什么美丽整齐的东西也没有;眼前的一切都很丑陋。我感到无能为力、灰心丧气、没法好好思考。

  The trash itself is a lens through which I can see what is happening in Chatham.

  管道工作是混乱世界的缩影,有时我讨厌它。我问自己,我本可以待在有空调的屋子里,用吸尘器打扫卧室,做牛油果吐司当早餐,早早完成暑假作业,为什么却要跑出来忍受这些灰尘与汗水。我甚至还可以找到另一份工作,一份更像我的同龄人做的那些普通工作。

  -- Andy Patrick  On July 5, 2017, it was the hottest day in Chatham, Massachusetts. My partner, Benjamin, and I showed up in the huge backyards of adjacent beach homes, carrying large green trash cans and dumping them into the back of the truck. I hopped on to the pedals, ready for the next stop, thinking that, despite all the sweat and aches and pains, all the insect bites and garbage, this job had made me so happy.  Like many children, I fell in love with garbage trucks as a toddler. Unlike most kids, I never let go of this obsession. When I was 8 years old, I joined a YouTube community called trashmonster26, where a group of like-minded people posted various BBBS related to garbage trucks.  Over the next nine years, I spent a fair amount of time looking for garbage trucks of all sizes -- not only in my hometown of San Diego, but also on family vacations in Sacramento and Boston, chasing garbage trucks that I couldn't see in San Diego.  I know these cars like the back of my hand. At a glance, I can tell the brand, model and year of almost every garbage truck in the country. Over the past few years, the channel has accumulated more than 6,000 subscribers and 4 million views. Most of my older friends with the same interests grew up doing recycling, which my parents strongly objected to.  I knew from a young age that I would go to college after high school, but I still wanted to experience working in a truck. While few transportation companies hire anyone under 18, I know that Benjamin t. Nickerson Inc., a small family business near my grandparents' house on the east coast, might break the mold and find seasonal help. I called their office, and after a few persistent emails, I was hired as a summer employee.  For my classmates, going to a small fishing village to deal with other people's garbage all day sounds like a very unpleasant summer. For me, it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life.  My day began at dawn, well before holidaymakers in the region wanted to get up. I got rid of the classroom and my parents' nagging. Just me and an empty road.  The trash itself was a lens through which I saw what was happening in Chatham. On July 5th

  然而,就像我讨厌脏乱的管道,我也讨厌自己会受到这些小小不安情绪的影响,讨厌自己这么容易就被混乱惹恼。毕竟,世界是由那些愿意把手弄脏的人建造的。

  当我思考这个问题的时候,我也一直都在处理混乱。作为青少年,我头脑里的不确定性和矛盾比任何延长线都要复杂得多,但我一直在试图理清它们。生活是一个接受混乱并且学会清理的过程,管道工作也不例外。

  我和爸爸不仅制造混乱,我们也创造秩序,只要细细观察,我可以在每个新焊好的铜管阵列中找到秩序,在爸爸货车后座上排列整齐的工具箱里找到秩序。此外,当客户对我们的工作表示感谢时,我明白,我们在一些小处给他们的生活带来了秩序。管道工作给身体和精神带来的不适都是值得的。

  宾夕法尼亚州波茨维尔

  “我爸说的第一句话是‘抱抱她吧,你现在不会弄疼她了。’”

  ——维多利亚·奥斯瓦尔德(Victoria Oswald)

  我的厨房很大一部分被我那张老旧、邋遢的暖棕色餐桌所占据。

  它的状况已经惨不忍睹。每次坐下来,我都会被旧油漆、热溶胶和偶尔一点指甲油(这要归功于我的姐姐们)的碎屑包围。我们有两把椅子,无论坐上哪一把,我都得格外小心它们会不会散架,因为椅子腿的固定靠的是一种由木工胶、蛮力和纯粹的使坏组成的恼人混合物。

  在我生命的前半部分,这张厨房桌就是我家的中心。小时候,每天晚上7点,我们(我奶奶、我爸和两个姐姐)会准时在这老旧、邋遢的暖棕色餐桌上吃一顿奶奶做的饭菜。

  在那些家庭晚餐上,我会和我爸争吵取乐,看着他因为打扰我吃饭被奶奶吼骂,并听着我的姐姐们或是争斗或是开玩笑;那永远是一场冒险。最初,我的厨房桌有五把结实的木椅。几年后,我的大姐16岁、我8岁时,椅子的数量随着她的搬走减到四把。她与奶奶的争吵太多,也不守规矩,所以她离开了。

  三年后,奶奶被诊出患了小细胞肺癌。这给我们的晚餐桌日常又带来了一些改变。起初是我的另一个姐姐开始不来吃晚餐。倒不是因为饭菜难免不那么可口了(癌症会破坏味蕾和整体烹饪能力),而是因为她总是不在家。我觉得她不想待在被诊断癌症后的奶奶身边。

  椅子数降到了三把。过了一年左右,晚餐本身的次数也少了很多,主要不是因为奶奶,而是因为爸爸决心让奶奶多休息。她没搭理爸爸的担心,所以最后变成了我得面对的某种不上不下的灰色地带。

  奶奶得癌症一年半后去世了。这句话说起来很快,但其实拖了很久。别误会,我是爱奶奶的,但得癌症的人往往去世前很久就已经死了。

  她过世时我在场,就在我们的起居室里。我在床的一边,我爸在另一边。她沉重的喘息渐渐变缓,然后停了下来。听上去挺难过,但其实多少是个欣慰的时刻。爸爸说的第一句话是“抱抱她吧,你现在不会弄疼她了。”虽然有积痰之症的气味,我还是抱了她。我们只需要两把椅子了。

  在那之后,爸爸和我还有我们这个非传统美国家庭所剩下的部分,组建了一个格外非传统的家庭。我们过了段时间才稳定下来,因为坦白讲,奶奶得癌症前我们已经是低收入家庭,之后更是每况愈下。

  爸爸和我削减了所有开支。我们去掉了家里的有线电视、手机和互联网。少用油、少用水、少浪费食物,有段时间我们没车,因为家里的小面包车太耗油,还经常抛锚。可是,即便那是个没Wi-Fi、没手机、单调至极的一年,我们还是挺了过来。

  我依然住在同一座房子里,只不过现在有Wi-Fi了。我们的餐桌还在,不过我们把中间的木头拿了出来,现在它的大小刚好够我们俩人使用。我们不再像从前那样吃晚饭,但有时候爸爸跟我会坐在沙发上闲聊会儿。

  当然了,我们的咖啡桌聊天内容或许和从前的家庭晚餐不一样,或许我们的电视已经打不开了。或许我们的厨房里有蚂蚁,或许我们得用90年代的老掉牙收音机收听超级碗(Super Bowl)的实况,又或许,爸爸现在也病得越来越厉害了。

  我不在乎我的新生活是围着有破洞的旧沙发、一个暴脾气老头、一对肥猫和一只鬃狮蜥转。和爸爸在一起,我感到心满意足;每晚7点,昏暗的厨房里,会有两把空椅子围在脏兮兮的暖棕色旧餐桌旁,我感到心满意足。在这段日子里,起居室的灯是开着的。

  圣迭戈

  “垃圾本身就是一个镜头,通过它,我可以看到查塔姆正在发生的事情。”

  ——安迪·帕特里坎

  2017年7月5日,在美国马萨诸塞州的度假小镇查塔姆,那是一天最热的时候。我和搭档本杰明出现在毗邻的海边民宅那些巨大的后院里,背着绿色的大垃圾桶,把垃圾倒进垃圾车后斗。我跳上车后的踏板,准备去下一站,心想,尽管汗流浃背、浑身酸痛,身上好多虫咬的伤口和垃圾污水,但这份工作让我快乐无比。

  和许多孩子一样,我在学步时就喜欢上了垃圾车。与大多数孩子不同的是,我一直没有放弃这种痴迷。8岁那年,我加入了YouTube上的一个社区“trashmonster26”,一群志趣相投的人在那里发布与垃圾车有关的各种视频。

  在接下来的九年时间里,我花了相当多的时间寻找各种型号的垃圾车——不仅在我的家乡圣地亚哥,还利用跟家人在萨克拉门托和波士顿度假的时候,追逐各种在圣地亚哥看不到的垃圾车。

  我对这些车了如指掌,只消看一眼,就能说出国内几乎所有垃圾车的牌子、型号和年份。在过去的几年里,该频道已经累积了超过6000名订阅者和400万的浏览量。大多数和我有同样兴趣、年龄比我大的朋友,长大后都在做垃圾回收工作,这是我父母极力反对的。

  我从小就知道高中毕业后要上大学,但我仍然想要体验在卡车上的工作。虽然几乎没有哪家运输公司会雇佣18岁以下的人,但我知道东海岸我祖父母家附近有一家名叫本杰明·尼克森公司(Benjamin T. Nickerson Inc.)的小型家族企业,可能会打破常规,找一些季节性帮工。我给他们的办公室打了电话,在坚持不懈地发了几封邮件之后,我被录用为暑期工。

  对我的同班同学来说,跑到一个小渔村整天处理别人的垃圾听起来是非常不愉快的夏天。对我来说,这是我一生中最自由的经历之一。

  我的一天始于破晓时分,远远早于这个地区的度假者想要起床的时间。我摆脱了教室的束缚,摆脱了父母的唠叨。只有我和一条空荡荡的马路。

  垃圾本身就是一个镜头,通过它,我看到了查塔姆正在发生什么。在7月5日那天,我看到了美国国旗和放完的烟火。当天最糟糕的一站是鱼码头的垃圾箱,臭味比查塔姆垃圾中转站还要重。查塔姆中转站是一座工业建筑,我们把当天的垃圾倾倒在那里,然后它们会被转运到几英里外的垃圾填埋场。在一个造船厂,锯末和反应性化学物质的危险组合,在垃圾车上引发了一场小小的火灾。

  我在高科技高中(High Tech High)的同班同学和我在查塔姆的客户之间几乎没有相似之处。我班上的孩子来自圣地亚哥不同的背景和文化群体。在查塔姆消暑的人群几乎都是富裕的白人。

  至少在我看来,唯一让他们一致的一点是,他们不愿做我这份工作。我的同学在找工作时想到的是有空调的电影院和零售店,而不是什么繁重的体力活。

  我考虑过进入一个与垃圾管理相关的领域,比如土木工程,但我想我可能还会追求自己的另一个爱好,比如刑法或政治学。我知道,无论选择哪条道路,这段经历都将是我最终走向成功的一部分。

  明尼苏达州伊登普雷里

  “当我们没地方住的时候,我们会在图书馆消磨时间,使用我心目中通往世界的钥匙:图书馆的电脑。”

  ——阿斯特丽德·利登

  正如我最爱的土豚亚瑟·里德所说,“当你有一张图书馆借书证时,找点乐子并不难。”好吧,其实挺难的。因为我,再一次,没带借书证。

  我可能已经进了图书馆员近期“历史记录”,因为这种事经常发生,所以她直接开始在电脑上查我的名字。我,这个戴着眼镜的9岁小顾客,只是想借出本书,但现在有两个问题:我没带借书证,而且我的罚款太多,已经没法借出。

  我咬着牙从用胶带做的钱包里掏出一张钞票,付了能让我把书借走的20%罚款。如果能借一本叫做《为孩子理财》(Handling Money for Kids)的书,我会借的,因为我大部分的“财富”都直接回到了图书馆。

  多亏了我妈妈,我几乎从出生起就有了一张借书证。我去我的图书馆不仅仅是为了读书,而是要沉浸在书里。我会找到我的凳子,坐在儿童区,然后看书。妈妈去上班时,她会半路把我放在图书馆,然后我就像往常一样:坐下来,读书,还书,重复这些动作,如果幸运的话,我还会把书借回家。

  我的访问目的通常都一样:读书或者玩电脑。但当我长大一些,我意识到事情已经开始发生变化。我妈妈开始经常和我们一起去图书馆。当我在读书或完成作业时,她也会在那,在我旁边打字。我们的世界并存了,但这是有原因的。

  有三年时间,母亲失业。作为单身母亲,没有工作、没有家也没有车的困境苦不堪言。我停止了往日的例行程序,也没怎么介意。我开着两个页面,继续着手中的工作。

  我每天都会登陆Zillow、求职网站,以及跟外公的中风康复有关的网站,然后问我找的信息有没有用。“谢谢我闺女,”妈妈总这么说,但我意识到了随之而来的压力。我们处在不同的世界,但它们撞到了一起。

  没地方住时,我们会在图书馆消磨时间,使用我心目中通往世界的钥匙:图书馆电脑。无论是在我们童年时的图书馆,还是我们所住的农场40英里开外的图书馆,图书馆就是一种稳定。

  如今我坐在服务台后面,看到也听到了一切:央求着要借走“朱尼·琼斯系列”(Junie B. Jones)的小女孩,在电脑上玩《机器砖块》(Roblox)的男孩,忙着报税的女人,来电询问最新结果的“体育迷”,还有询问天气的女人。

  我会听到西班牙语、英语、索马里语。我会遇到那些常见的不守规矩的家伙:孩子们上气不接下气地跑来柜台问,“能给我个访客通行证吗?”

  起初,缓缓打出来的收据只是一串数字,但我很快意识到远不止如此。曾经我说的是,“我妈忘带借书证了”或“图书馆什么时候关门?”或“我能用一下电话吗?”当年我是使用电脑的顾客,是阅读区的孩子。而今我是那个在柜台的专业人员,帮忙寻找遗失的借书证。坐在柜台前不会让我忘记自己的过去,反而会让我接纳它。

  图书馆向人们提供的资源,会给不同的人开启不同的门。即便在妈妈找到工作后,图书馆仍是安全感与舒适感的来源。在曾给予我如此之多的地方工作,我学会了回馈他人。现在我拥有了将图书馆开放给他人的机会,正如它曾开放给我一样。

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