I sincerely believe that both of these types of upbringing have value, though I wouldn’t trade mine for any other. But it leaves me in a strange place on this path of upward mobility. Every time I call home, the gap has increased between my sisters’ experiences and my own. We read different news, watch different television shows, not because of intelligence but circumstance. We have come to know the world in a different way.
My younger sister called me, after she heard about my trip, and said, “Bubba, I heard you’re moving to Africa.” After I told her where Abu Dhabi was, she explained to me that a relative had told her that I was moving to Africa and would be taking a job as a reporter in Palestine. I told her that I wished my life were that exciting.在听说我要出国旅行后，妹妹给我打电话说：“老兄，听说你要去非洲了啊。”当我告诉她阿布扎比在哪儿之后，她解释说，有一个亲戚告诉她我要搬去非洲，还会在巴勒斯坦从事记者工作。我回答她说，但愿我的生活能有那么精彩。And that story is not a dig on my sister. At 22, she spends her time dealing with the complications that come with raising two daughters who have no father around to speak of. It makes no difference to her where Abu Dhabi is. The exact geographical coordinates（坐标，坐标值） of the Palestinian territories don’t matter. But what does matter to her is where I am. And I get to be thisportal（门，入口）to the world for my family and friends back home. I get to send them pictures from the places I’ve been, and to tell them stories from places outside Ventura. And I think what matters most to me is that my nieces and nephews (I have something around 10 of them) can see me as one person in the family who did something a little different, and see in me another model for life, in addition to the hard-working, blue-collar examples they have back home.讲这件事不是要挖苦我妹妹。22岁的她要养育两个女儿，孩子的父亲又不在身边，应对这些生活上的难处就占满了她的时间。阿布扎比位于哪里对她来说没有任何意义。巴勒斯坦领土的确切地理坐标对她而言也无关紧要。但是与她密切相关的是我在哪儿。我成了故乡的家人和朋友通往世界的一个窗口。我给他们寄我去过的地方的照片，给他们讲文图拉以外的地方的故事。我想对我而言最重要的是，我的外甥、外甥女们(我大约有10个外甥、外甥女)可以看到家里有我这样一个人做着和其他人不太一样的事，可以从我身上看到另一种生活模式，而不仅仅是他们在故乡见到的勤奋工作的蓝领生活。What I don’t tell them is that I often feel as distant from the people here in New York as I do from them. The friend I mentioned earlier came to New York to visit me for a weekend. We went for a walk on the promenade（海滨人行道） in Brooklyn Heights, where you can look out on the Manhattan skyline. It was night, and the buildings were lit up in that miraculous way that almost makes up for the fact that you can’t see a single goddamn star any more. We both thought it was beautiful, but when I asked my friend which building was his favorite, he said, “It’s just a bunch of corporate phalluses to me.”我没有告诉他们的是，我常常感到自己与纽约人有疏离感，就像和他们有疏离感一样。前面我提到的那个朋友有一次周末来纽约看我。我们去了布鲁克林高地的海滨步道散步，从那里可以看到曼哈顿的天际线。当时是晚上，一座座高楼大厦亮起了璀璨华灯，令人感到不可思议，几乎能够弥补天上再也看不到一颗星星的遗憾。我们都觉得那景色很美，但是当我问朋友最喜欢哪座大厦时，他回答说：“在我眼里，这不过是一堆公司的阳具而已。”I couldn’t figure out why his comment bothered me. But then something clicked. When we both looked at the skyline, he was thinking about the people who lived and worked in those multi-million-dollar condos and offices, while I was thinking about the people who built them. I imagined the past and present men who risked their lives every day to feed their families. The Irish and the Italian and the Mohawks（莫霍克人，指居住在美国纽约州和加拿大的北美印第安人）and the Puerto Ricans and the man on the New Yorker cover: everyone who climbed, day after day, higher and higher, to create the skyline that now dwarfs the image of Lazarus’s “New Colossus（《新的巨像》，由犹太诗人艾玛·拉扎勒斯于1883年为自由女神像而写的诗作，该诗被认为是美国自由精神的象征）.”我不明白他的这个评论为什么会让我耿耿于怀，但后来我突然想明白了。当我们一起凝望天际线时，他想到的是在那些价值数百万美元的公寓和办公室里生活和工作的人，而我想到的是建造它们的人。我想到了以前和现在那些每天冒着生命危险挣钱养家的人。那些爱尔兰人、意大利人、莫霍克印第安人、波多黎各人以及《纽约客》杂志封面上的那个人：每一个日复一日、越爬越高、建造起令拉扎勒斯的诗歌《新的巨像》中的形象都相形见绌的天际线的人。By Stewart Sinclair 译 / 子昊