Vivian Gornick

“What the hell does that mean,” he said.
”I’m not sure.”
”When will you be sure?”
”I don’t know.”
”So what do you do in the meantime?”
”Take notes.”

***

It was as though and invisible membrane had fallen between me and my lover, one fine enough to be
penetrated by desire but opaque enough to obscure human fellowship. The person on the other side of the
membrane seemed as unreal to me as I felt myself to be to him. At that moment I didn’t care if I never again got into bed with a man.

I did of course get into bed with them—love, quarrel, and bliss out many more times after this man and I parted—but the memory of that fine, invisible separation haunted me; and more often than I like to remember, I saw it glistening as I gazed into the face of a man who loved me but was not persuaded that I needed what he needed to feel like a human being.

—Odd Woman in the City