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In the late summer of 2004, days before I was to move to Lianyungang, China, to teach English for a year, I spoke to an acquaintance who had spent a few years in the country.
2004年夏末,也就是在去中国连云港任教一年英语的几天前,我向一位在中国呆过几年的朋友了解情况。

 

 

"Holidays are hard," he said. "But oddly, not so much Christmas. Christmas isn't that bad. It's Thanksgiving that's hard."
他说:“那里假期很难熬,不过奇怪的是,圣诞节倒也还行,糟糕的是感恩节。”

 

 

At the time, surviving the holidays was the least of my worries. I was moving to a country where I didn't speak the language, understand the culture, or know the history, in order to do a job that I had never done and didn't know how to do. And not only that, I was going to a city—Lianyungang—that I hadn't even heard of, and could find no information about online.
当时,假期并不是最令我担心的事情。我就要去中国了,可我根本不会讲汉语,也不了解中国文化或历史,而且我以前从没教过英语,压根儿不知道该怎么做;不仅如此,我要去的那个叫连云港的城市,连听都没听过,网上也查不到相关信息!

 

 

Other than that, I was completely prepared.
除此之外,我算是准备就绪了。

 

 

Lianyungang, 300 miles or so north of Shanghai, is a port city of around 750,000 people and is famous in China for being the birthplace of the Monkey King, a literary hero from the 16th century novel Journey to the West. But in 2004, it looked like any other city in the country: full of tall, gray skyscrapers, neon signs, and belching taxis.
连云港位于上海北面300英里左右,是一座拥有75万人口的港口城市,作为16世纪小说《西游记》中“美猴王”的故乡而名扬中国。但是,2004年的连云港看上去却截然不同:到处都充斥着灰蒙蒙的高楼、闪烁的霓虹灯和喧闹的出租车。

 

 

Foreign residents in Lianyungang were few and far between. I was told that the first English teacher arrived in 2000 and when she—a middle-aged New Zealander with white hair—walked around, bicyclists sometimes slammed into parked cars. By the time I arrived four years later, there were about ten Western teachers in the city, but we still caused a minor frenzy when we ventured into a crowd of people.
在连云港老外并不多见。我听说这里直到2000年才有外教——那个满头银发的中年新西兰女教师无论走到哪儿,都能招来不少注目。4年后我到连云港,发现这里统共有10个外教,而且我们走在人群里也会引起小小的骚动。

 

 

Usually, there were the "hellos": Young Chinese people would shout the word, accompanied by peals of laughter, as I walked in the city. Other people would tail me and ask for my phone number or address. Once, when walking through a university campus, I attracted a small mob of people who, wishing to practice their English, bombarded me with questions.
通常当我走在大街上时,年轻人会大笑着冲我喊一句“哈罗”;也有人会跟着我要电话号码或地址。有次我在大学校园里遇到一帮想练英语的学生,连珠炮似的问我一堆问题。

 

 

"Do you like Chinese food?" "Can you use chopsticks?"
“你喜欢中国菜吗?” “你会用筷子吗?”

 

 

Yes, and yes—we have them at home.
喜欢啊,会用筷子呢——我家里就有。

 

 

"What is your favorite Chinese city?"
“你最喜欢中国的哪个城市?”

 

 

"Uh, Lianyungang." Except for a few hours in Beijing on the day I arrived, I hadn't been anywhere else.
“嗯,连云港。”其实,除了刚到那天在北京停留过几个小时,我还没去过其他地方。

 

 

"Really?"
“真的吗?”

 

 

Within a couple of months, the euphoria of being in China had worn off, and I found myself settling into a routine. During the day, there was work: I taught two hour-long classes of 15 and 16-year-olds, and, because I assigned no homework and rarely gave out tests, spent the afternoons either reading or making a halfhearted attempt to learn Chinese.
几个月后,在中国生活的兴奋感消退了,我发现自己安稳了下来。白天我要工作——给中学生上2个小时的英语课,因为我不布置作业,也很少安排考试,所以下午我就用来读书或三心二意学点中文。

 

 

At night, after dinner at my school's canteen, I'd walk to a store down the street and buy a pirated DVD, which usually cost about 50 cents. The quality of the copies were variable—sometimes, they were filmed with a camcorder inside a cinema, which worked okay until someone stood up in front—but watching them kept me from having to deal with my Chinese reality. I was desperately homesick. "Just get through this year," I told myself. "Then you can leave."
晚上在学校食堂吃完饭后,我就上街买盗版碟片看,这些碟片都很便宜。当然,盗版碟的质量也参差不齐——有的是用照相机摄像头在电影院拍的,前面要是没人站起来的话,也还能凑合着看。反正,看碟片好歹能让我逃避在中国的现实问题。我想家想得要命,一直跟自己说:“只要熬过这一年,你就能回家了。”

 

 

When Thanksgiving came around, I decided it'd be easiest if I just ignored it. In China, this isn't difficult; unlike Christmas, which many Chinese people commemorate with decorations, music, and festivities, Thanksgiving slips past unnoticed—it's just another Thursday.
快到感恩节时,我告诉自己:只要不去想它就没啥大不了的。反正身在中国,这没什么。又不像圣诞节,中国人还会搞点装饰、音乐和活动以示庆祝。这里感恩节就像某个寻常的星期四,会悄无声息滑过。

 

 

And so it was. I walked to school, taught my classes, did some lesson planning, and came home. But as I sat on my sofa, watching the next film from the James Bond box set I bought for $12 at a local shop, I felt a sense of shame. What was I doing? It was Thanksgiving, damn it. I needed to have a proper Thanksgiving dinner.
事实也确实这样。我去学校上课、备课,然后回家。可当我坐在沙发上准备看一部花12美元在当地商店买的詹姆斯•邦德影片时,突然感到一阵羞愧:我这是在干嘛呀?今天是感恩节,靠!我怎么也得吃顿像样的感恩节晚餐吧。

 

 

There was only one problem. In Lianyungang, as in most small Chinese cities, there's no turkey. Or cranberry sauce. Or stuffing, yams, pumpkin pie, or anything else. In fact, in the entire city of 700,000 people, there was exactly one restaurant whose food even resembled, at a distance, Thanksgiving fare.
可麻烦是,跟其他中国小城市一样,在连云港根本买不到火鸡、红莓酱、馅料、洋芋、南瓜馅饼或其他食材。事实上,在这座70万人口的城市,确实也有一家卖类似食物的餐厅,并且还有感恩节特惠。

 

 

Kentucky Fried Chicken.
那就是——肯德基。

 

 

And so that's where I headed.
好吧,那就去肯德基。

 

 

Lianyungang's one KFC was located near my school, but until then I had refused, in an effort to preserve a degree of cultural authenticity, to go in. But on Thanksgiving, after I waved hello to Colonel Sanders and walked through the front door, what I found was a revelation. Unlike any of the other restaurants I had been to in town, KFC had clean floors, a functional public bathroom, and central heat. Its patrons were smartly dressed young professionals. Several people, I noticed, were even there on dates. The line behind the cash register was orderly, and within minutes of my arrival I found myself in possession of a bucket of crispy fried chicken, a tub of mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and a dubious-looking "dinner wrap" I selected from the menu.
我的学校附近就有一家肯德基连云港分店,但为了保留文化真实感,之前我一直没进去过。感恩节这天,我冲着桑德斯上校打声招呼,走进门去,顿时眼前一亮:完全不同于我去过的城里其他餐厅,肯德基的地板锃亮、盥洗室干净、暖气充足。这里的顾客都是穿着得体的上班族。我发现,有些人甚至在这里约会。收银台前的排队也井然有序,不一会儿就轮到了我:眼前是我点的一桶香酥炸鸡、土豆泥、玉米和一份差不多的套餐。

 

 

I pinched myself. Was this China?
我掐了掐自己:这是在中国吗?

 

 

I sat down and tore into my food. Every last bite was delicious. About halfway through the meal, I felt the familiar wave of nausea—tinged with self-loathing— I recognized from a lifetime of eating fast food. But I didn't care. It was Thanksgiving, and I wanted my food coma.
我坐下来大快朵颐,真是美味无比啊!吃到一半的时候,我却感到一阵反胃伴着自责涌上心头——平生第一次吃了快餐。好吧,管它呢!今天是感恩节,我只想美美撮一顿!

 

 

As I left, walking to a busy street to look for a cab, I heard footsteps and turned around: A young man wearing a suit had followed me from the restaurant and wanted to tell me something. Oh God. What did he want?
当我离开并走到繁忙大街上等出租时,突然听到后面有脚步声,转身一看:是个穿西装的年轻人从餐厅跟着我出来,好像有什么话要说。天哪,他想干嘛?

 

 

"Happy Thanksgiving!" he said. "I hope you have a good day.
“感恩节快乐!祝你今天好心情!”他说。

 

 

With that, he turned around and ran off. And my first Thanksgiving in China—there would be five more—was complete. More complete than I would have imagined it being in Lianyungang, anyway.
说完后,他掉头跑开了。这就是我在中国的第一个感恩节,相当完满,绝对比我想象中的连云港感恩节来得美好。而且,我决定后五年也在中国过了! 

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