Writing, Identity, & Queer Studies

In & Out, Either/Or, and Everything In Between

Temporary Love

“In the park in the rain I had recognized one thing at least; that Louise was the woman I wanted even if I couldn’t have her. Jacqueline I had to admit had never been wanted, simply she had roughly the right shape to fit for a while” (Winterson 61).

Life with Jacqueline was stable, normal and everything that heteronormative culture tells us is the purpose of life – to find a partner who provides stability, both in life and financially, who grounds you and offers up a sturdy platform for marriage, children, and ‘growing old together.’ Life with Jacqueline is a security of warmth, a mother bringing a steaming bowl of chicken-noodle soup to her ill child, nutritious but light on the tongue, satisfying in the moment but unable to quench the thirst for flavor on burdened taste buds. When the narrator says “she [Jacqueline] had roughly the right shape to fit for a while,” they identify their entire relationship with Jacqueline as temporary, something necessary to experience but no longer needed (Winterson 61). They equate their relationship to Jacqueline as if it were coat, thick and quilted for the solemn bitterness of winter but quickly shed for the kisses of sunlight on skin.

The narrator longs for otherness, a life and place besides Louise. Louise incites an incredible hunger in the narrator that goes unsatisfied by Jacqueline. Louise offers promises of a life in lust and love, of romance and passion, without the restrictions/tethers of the status quo.

Life with Louise, by heteronormative standards, would be anything but considered ‘desirable.’ It is “immature and even dangerous” in the same lens (Halberstam 5). A life spent with Louise would be without the constraints of the familial monolith, without designated roles of gender and sexuality. Life with Louise opens the “potentials of a life unscripted by the conventions of family, inheritance, and child rearing” (Halberstam 2). It would be as if the two are delicate ribbons, curled into one another and uplifted by a strong wind, relentless and powerful, each hour bringing new places and sights for exploration. Never stagnant, never without variation.

The narrator’s relationship with Jacqueline and Louise represents this crossroad between choosing normalcy, therefore losing their individuality, and embracing queer identity – all the possibilities and avenues that would blossom beneath their eyes should they choose it. With their arms outstretched for love, they create their own narrative.

1 Comment

  1. Nickname (required)

    October 8, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    I love how you compared the narrator’s relationship with Jacqueline to a winter coat. What keeps one warm in one condition will also overheat an individual in another. Jacqueline may have temporarily filled the void, but she created new emptiness in doing so. It’s far too common for people to remain in a subpar relationship to maintain a feeling of safety. It is only human to want what we cannot have, so the scandalous life with Louise is a powerful stimulation for the narrator.

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