那个离我们很近但从来没去过的地方 – This place nearby we’ve never been to

说“那个”,肯定不准确,应该用“那些”——也就是那些离我们很近但我们从来没去过的地方。这样的地方当然太多了,我想应该再加一点补充,这些地方似乎在日常的逻辑里是我们应该去的,至少一次。

但没有,我们一次都没去过。

比如说吧,北京动物园,我从来没去过。

最近小暖同学长大了许多,走路很好甚至开始跑起来了。天气变暖,带她出来玩的时候,经常会遇见小区里的狗。每次看见狗,小暖都会举起小手指“咦”。我喜欢听她的带着些许惊喜的惊叹,那是一个孩子对自己感兴趣的事物的本能惊叹,对她来说,看见一条小狗,简直太有意思了。我跟老婆商量说,找一个时间,应该带小暖去动物园里,那儿有那么多有趣的动物,老虎狮子大象长颈鹿,她一定会不停地“咦”。

每次提到这个话题,我大概都会补充一下:正好啊,我也还没有去过动物园。

我不知道自己为什么没有去过,应该是有机会去,但始终没有去,类似的地方在我生活里曾经有很多。我似乎天生缺少要去某个地方的欲望,因此也不爱旅游,跑到一个地方去然后再回来,对我来说毫无意义。

去故宫是我来到北京9年之后,简直不可思议,太多人来到这儿的第一件事就是去这里。09年我跟妻子在老家办完婚礼,然后两家老人一起来到北京,我和妻子分头带着他们在城里转转。我带着四个老人去了故宫,如果他们不来这儿玩,我想我现在也还不会去故宫。

再比如颐和园。大概2006年的时候,我还在读硕士,接了一个教留学生汉语的活儿,是一个韩国的女生,我的任务之一是陪她去颐和园。她不懂汉语,但会说英语,我的英语水平不怎么样,不过连蒙带比划的倒也还能交流。就这样,才去了那个离我不远但从来没去过的颐和园。

我仔细琢磨了一下,自己也并非是真的不愿去这些地方,只是不喜欢匆匆忙,如果让我去哪儿住上个三两个月,哪儿都愿意去。随便什么地方,住在那儿,最好是无所事事地走在大街上,或者进饭馆里自斟自饮,跟晒太阳的老头聊聊天,这样足够。

有太多的地方,我们似乎都应该去一趟,但始终没去。

我想,这些地方比我们去过的地方更重要,我们为什么没有去呢?某家餐馆,某个商店,咖啡厅,美容院,甚至是家里的某个小房间,我们有时候也会很长时间不去一次,太多的地方只是存在着,我们也知道它的存在,但就是不会发生联系。

I’m saying ‘that’, but surely, I should say ‘those’ – those places not far from us where we’ve never been. Of course, there’s too many of those places, so I think I should add a clause, and speak of these places where, according to every logic, we should have been at least once.

But we haven’t been there, not once.

For instance, Beijing Zoo, I’ve never been there.

My daughter has grown up a lot recently, she can walk very well, even run sometimes. When the weather is nice and I spend time with her, we often see the dog of our compound. Every time she sees the dog, she lifts her little fingers and says ‘huh’. I love listening to her little shout of surprise, that’s the amazing instinct of curiosity that children have for things of interest, and for her, seeing a little dog, that’s of the highest interest. So I told my wife, I need to find time to go to the zoo with our daughter, there’s so many animals there, tiger, monkey, elephant, giraffe, she won’t stop saying ‘huh’.

Every time we talk about this, I’ll probably add: oh yay, by the way, I’ve never been to the zoo.

I don’t know why I’ve never been, there would have been opportunities, but in the end, I didn’t go, and there have been many similar places in my life. Maybe I was born lacking the desire to go places, which is why I also don’t like travelling. To me, going somewhere and back is meaningless.

I only went to the Forbidden City nine years after moving to Beijing, which is incredible – it would be the first place most people go. In 2009, after I got married back home, older people from both families came to Beijing with me and my wife, and we took turns to show them around the city. I took four older people to the Forbidden City, but if it hadn’t been for them, I think I still would never have gone.

Another example is the Summer Palace. Around 2006, while I was studying for my Masters, I got a job teaching Chinese to foreigners. One of my students was a Korean woman, and one of my duties was to accompany her to the Summer Palace. She didn’t understand Chinese, but she could speak English. My English was average, but we could manage with body language. And that’s when I finally got to this place not far from me where I had never been, the Summer Palace.

I’ve thought about it carefully, and it’s not that I don’t want to go to those places, it’s just that I don’t like rushing, but if you let me go somewhere and live for two or three months, I’ll go anywhere. Whatever the place, living there, preferably just walking around the streets with nothing to do, or go to a restaurant and order some food, or have a chat with the sunshine, that’s what I’m satisfied with.

There are too many place where we should go at least once, yet have never been.

I’m thinking, these places are more important than the places we have been, so why haven’t we visited them? There’s places where we don’t go for a long time, a restaurant, a shop, a cafe, a beauty salon, even a small room in our house, there are too many places which only exist, we know that they’re there, but we can’t find a point of contact with them.

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