Here is my (rather hasty, last minute) translation of a post by Hester Prynne of La letra escarlata, “Primera persona del singular del futuro imperfecto“; done for the first Carnival of Blog Translation over on the ALTA blog. (I apologize for any mistakes or awkward phrasing, and anyone can feel free to correct me.)
And — I have to say — what fun this is!
First person singular future imperfect
A ticket for a bet on the films that might make it to the Oscars this year, four beer cans crumpled as if they were balls of paper where someone didn’t find inspiration, a container of dirty paintbrushes, a radio set (playing happy reggaeton that everyone in the world tends to listen to lately and that gives me a headache), a smell that hasn’t been aired out for several days, a mountain of sheets on the bed, a pizza box I don’t dare to open.
“Did you find it?” asks my housemate from the kitchen, where she’s making sandwiches, she’ll leave everything messed up and I don’t care very much, because I’ve gotten used to it. People in the United States are very disorderly; the most neglectful person in Madrid can’t surpass it. I think it’s becuase they have so many things, trivial things that sometimes don’t seem to serve any purpose, things that they buy every time they go to the shopping center — I don’t know.
“Yes, here it is, thanks.” I pick up the book I was looking for, under a pile of notebooks. I close the door.
Outside it’s snowing. I put on my black overcoat, the thickest one I have, the scarf and legwarmers my bruja made me (isn’t she wonderful?). The gloves my friend Henar gave me, the hat with earflaps that makes me look Peruvian.
How landscapes change according to time’s passing. Now the leafeless trees show what was hidden when I arrived in summer to Saratoga Springs. many people walking hurried with their paper cups full of coffee. I nevertheless am stupified, with my nose redder and redder, gazing at infinity.
More and more, I grow conscious that I’m living a sort of privileged parenthesis. In this one year I’ve been put in a bubble whwere I know what I’m supposed to do with every minute. To go to class, to read, to study, to write, to work, to go to dinner, to take a walk… I don’t have to set out to plan anything on my own, the elitist university system of the United States of America protects me.
But there, watching me, is the near future. June will come and in its backpack loads up verbs like: getting my degree, writing, (or salvation, for me it means the same), working, going back… It’s a future that scares me but at the same time appeals to me. The great bourgeois problem of “what do I do with my life” that we have the luxury of being able to ponder.
Saratoga celebrates the Winterfest, an equivalent to Groundhog Day (Day of the Marmot) that is celebrated in Pennsylvania, and by which people predict how much winter is left (I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the film by Atrapando about this time, about this event). There’s a buffet of soups in all the town’s restaurants, a display of snowmen, and somehow, a band plays with its trombones semifrozen. I have a book in my bag and there’s my favorite cafe. Whenever I go in, my glasses fog up and with the paraphrenalia of scarf, bag, purse, and all that, it takes me a while to clean them off and look around me. The girl behind the bar recognizes me and knows that Iike the hazelnut coffee. She makes me want to say:
“Eeeeeh, could I have also just a little bit of the future, please?”
I hope that my life is always a mix of the Unitedstatesian messy room and precise protective bubble, of glasses misty with the heat of an agreeable place where they know what kind of coffee you like and the white cold of a snowfall predicted by the dreams of a marmot, that forces you to open yourself to a road of responsibility and risk. There are things that I know I want, things I don’t know if I want, things that I know I don’t want… There’s fears, there’s goals, there’s laziness, there’s the emotions of an uncertain and tempting future. I’m going to end this post with a rotten rhetorical question, but oh such a true one: who said going outside is easy?