掌控人生,从一个人住开始 Living on My Own, and Taking Control of My Life

2017-08-04 23:15:25

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

—Michel de Montaigne

“世界上最伟大的事,是一个人懂得如何做自己的主人。”

——米歇尔·德·蒙田

◎ By Sian Norris 译 / 杨锐

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I always wanted to live alone. When I was a teenager I had a fantasy about living in my own flat, wearing a Japanese kimono and drinking lapsang souchong1) (I read a lot of Colette2) novels at a formative3) age). But when I moved in with my boyfriend at the age of 23, I started planning for a new future—one with other people in it.

This all changed when I turned 30. Like Colette in my paperback novels, I had arrived at my “age of reckoning.” I left my boyfriend, went to live with my mum and her partner, and a year later finally moved into my own place. Alone.

Those first few days of being by myself in my flat—decorated with my choice of colours, with my books on the shelves and my pictures, hung by me, on my walls—were disconcerting4). I walked around the few rooms, wondering what to do now. With no one to move around, no one to talk to, no one to ask me how my day had been, I didn’t know where to put myself. The life I had once assumed—the one with a partner and a house and a family—had vanished. Here I was, facing a new future, living by myself.

That trepidation5), that anxiety, soon turned into a feeling of liberation.

Living alone gave me a sense of freedom I hadn’t known I’d craved. In my own flat, with my own space, I started to write with a renewed energy. I’d spent years writing the first draft of a novel—years filled with interruptions and squeezed space. Within months, I had finished a book.

By taking control of my physical space, I opened up a new emotional space for myself. I was working harder and better than I’d ever worked before. My self-image changed with the move, too. I started calling myself a writer. In Woolfspeak, I had found my “room of one’s own6)” where I could carve out a space for my creative self.

Despite the fact that I’m a radical feminist writer and activist, my ex-partner and I had easily slipped into gendered roles in our shared home. I was convinced that I was rubbish at anything technical, and I hate talking to people on the phone. He took on those jobs, while I did most of the cooking and cleaning.

Moving into my own place, this was no longer possible. I had to call the gas company; I had to learn how to programme my central heating, and tune my TV. No one else was going to do it for me. All these things I had been convinced I couldn’t do, convinced I didn’t understand, I was forced to learn. I had to become more capable, and fast. I had to become independent.

There is something blissfully selfish about living alone. In a society where women are expected to take on so much domestic and emotional labour, where we are typecast7) as nurturers and carers, living purely for myself has been both a joyful and liberating experience.

Living alone means I am my priority. It feels quite subversive8) or transgressive to say so. And yet, there’s something really positive about putting myself first. Everything is designed for me, around me, by me. My space is my own space, and my time is my own time. I don’t have to answer to anyone.

Of course, it also means that I am responsible for everything. It’s up to me to take out the bins as well as do the cooking. Again, in a world where women carry the burden of domestic labour in relationships, there is something liberating about cleaning up for myself and not after other people. I keep my flat tidy because I want to live in a pleasant space, not because I’m carrying the domestic burden for a partner, parent, or child. Taking ownership is empowering.

It would be a lie to say that life doesn’t sometimes get lonely. However, I believe we can reframe the way we think about loneliness. We can transform the state of being alone into one that is motivating and empowering. When I start to feel lonely, I go for a walk, watch a film, read a book or take a bath.

Most of all, I write.

Moving into my own place proved to me that I can be capable, independent, and in control of my own space and my life.

And yes—I do have that Japanese kimono, and I do drink lapsang souchong.

1. lapsang souchong:正山小种(中国产上等红茶,有明显的烟熏香味)

2. Colette:即西多妮·加布里埃尔·科莱特(Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, 1873~1954),法国国宝级女作家,代表作为小说《琪琪》(Gigi)。

3. formative [ˈfɔː(r)mətɪv] adj. 有助于形成(或成长)的

4. disconcerting [ˌdɪskənˈsɜː(r)tɪŋ] adj. 使人不安的

5. trepidation [ˌtrepɪˈdeɪʃ(ə)n] n. 惊恐

6. 此处指英国著名作家弗吉尼亚·伍尔芙(Virginia Woolf, 1882~1941)的一句话:“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”伍尔芙是意识流文学代表人物,被誉为20世纪现代主义与女性主义的先锋,代表作包括小说《达洛维夫人》(Mrs. Dalloway)、《到灯塔去》(To the Lighthouse)及随笔《一间自己的房间》(A Room of One’s Own)等。

7. typecast [ˈtaɪpˌkɑːst] vt. 一成不变地看待

8. subversive [səbˈvɜː(r)sɪv] adj. 颠覆性的

我过去总想着要独自生活。十几岁的时候,我幻想过住在属于自己的公寓里,穿着日本和服,饮着正山小种(在那些成长的岁月里,我读了很多柯莱特的小说)。但23岁时,我搬去和男朋友一起住,那时我开始规划新的未来——一个有其他人存在的未来。

到了30岁,这就完全变了。和我的平装小说中的柯莱特一样,我已经到了“思考的年纪”。

我离开了男友,和妈妈及其伴侣住在一起。一年之后,我终于搬进自己的地盘。一个人。

公寓装修用的是我喜欢的色彩,书架上摆的是我的书,墙上挂着的是我的照片,而且是我自己挂上去的。但最初一个人在公寓的那几天,我感觉焦躁不安。我在为数不多的几个房间里徘徊,不知道要做些什么。没有人在身边走动,没有人和我说话,没有人问我今天过得怎么样,我不知该如何安放自己。我曾经假设的生活——有一个伴儿、一所房子、一个家的生活——化为了泡影。走到了这一步,我要面对的是崭新的未来,一个人的生活。

这种惊惶和焦虑很快就转变为自由之感。

一个人生活给我带来了一种自由的感觉,这种自由感是我一直渴求却不自知的。我在属于自己的公寓里,有了自己的空间,于是重新打起精神,开始写作。我曾花费几年的时间才完成一部小说的初稿——那几年里我经常被打断,个人空间遭到挤压。现在,几个月内我就写成了一本书。

我通过控制物理空间为自己开辟了新的情感空间。我比以往工作得更努力,工作得更好。自我形象也随着此次搬家改变了,我开始称自己为作家。用伍尔芙的话说,我发现了“自己的房间”,在这个房间里我可以为富有创作力的自己开辟一片天地。

尽管我是激进的女权主义作家和活跃人士,我和前男友在共享的家中还是容易进入各自的性别角色。我相信自己在任何技术问题面前都相当于一个废物,我还讨厌在电话上与人交谈。所以这些工作都由他承担,而做饭、打扫这些工作大部分由我做。

搬进自己的地盘后,这样分工就不再可能了。我必须自己打电话给煤气公司;我必须学会预设中央暖气;我必须自己调电视频道。没有人再帮我做这些。所有我以前认为自己不会做的,搞不明白的,我都被迫去学。我必须变得更有能力,更敏捷。我必须变得独立。

独自生活也有一些幸福的私利。这个社会期待女性承担太多的家务劳动和情感付出,把我们一成不变地看成营养师、护理工。在这样的社会中,单纯为自己而活是一种快乐且自由的经历。

独自生活意味着我首要考虑的对象是我自己。这样说感觉有点违背常理,大逆不道。但是,把自己放在首位确实有一些积极作用。一切都是为我设计,围绕我设计,由我设计。我的空间就是属于我的空间,我的时间就是属于我的时间。我不需要为任何人负责。

当然,这也意味着我要对一切负责。我要自己扔垃圾,自己做饭。还是那句话,在这个世界里,处于两性关系中的女性要承担家务劳动的担子,所以为自己打扫而不是跟着别人后面打扫让人有一种解放的感觉。我保持公寓的整洁是因为我想生活在宜人的环境中,不是因为我要为伴侣、父母或孩子去挑起家务的担子。拥有自己的地盘能赋予人更多的自主权。

说生活中没有任何孤单的时刻,那是骗人的。但是,我认为我们可以重新思考孤独。我们可以把孤独的状态转变成激励人、振奋人的状态。当我开始感到孤独时,我会去散散步、看电影、读本书或洗个澡。

更多的时候,我写作。

搬进自己的地盘让我明白我可以能干、独立,可以掌控我的空间和生活。

而且,是的——我确实穿着日本和服,我也确实喝着正山小种。

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