Jewish law mandated I be straight or lose my kids. So I suppressed what made me feel most alive.

"Kissing Girls on Shabbat" Book Cover/Dr. Sara Glass Headshot
Photo: Simon & Schuster/Noa Green

The following is an excerpt from Kissing Girls on Shabbat by Dr. Sara Glass, published by Simon & Schuster. Find the book on Amazon.

Most of me was ready to leave temptation behind, but a small piece of my old self needed to do one last thing before committing to a lifetime with Eli. 

One Saturday night, I dug my first pair of Fossil jeans out from the back of my closet, fastened them to my hips with a gauze belt, drove through the Lincoln Tunnel and into the West Village, and headed to the Cubbyhole, a tiny dive bar coated in rainbows.

“Hi, I’m Miriam,” a woman said as she sat down on a ledge near me and looked right into my eyes. Hers were dark. Bedroom dark. I smiled and offered my hand, the hand that was not holding a cigarette. It was a motion I had practiced at similar street corners in my previous lifetime, the wild one.

It was my last time, I swore. And then I was inside, and the women were just so intoxicating. Women, packed wall to wall, women who were checking each other out, flirting, searching. Rounded asses in tight pants, cleavage peeking out of casual tops, long hair, spiky hair, tattoos, glossed lips. My gut reacted to each scent, each glimpse. That’s the devil, I said to my weakening spirit, you have to ignore it.

I couldn’t kiss anyone. I couldn’t take any phone numbers. If I chose to do things that a true Jewish woman should never do, then I would lose it all. The divorce agreement that I signed two years ago was still in effect, and it always would be, forever. If it is determined that I am not raising the children according to Jewish law, custody will be transferred to their other biological parent. 

Jewish law mandated that I be straight. I was straight. 

As the night turned hazy with the sweet scent of so many mingled perfumes, the smooth taste of vodka soda, I felt beautifully engulfed. I caught sight of Miriam’s buzz cut moving through the crowd. I could tell she felt it too, as she turned sideways and maneuvered toward me. Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl came on and the whole bar came alive, whistles and cheers and voices that sang along. I felt Miriam’s hips against mine, moving to the beat. She reached up, cupped my jaw in her delicate hand. All I could think was, Stop it. You are not attracted to her. Not. Attracted. Not. I pulled away. 

Why did women always know to touch my face when it was something Eli had not done once in the hundreds of times he had kissed me? Sigh. Stop. Sigh. I pushed past the butches with short hair flopping over their smooth faces, past the studded ears and the long hair and the plaid shirts tied around waists. Until I was outside in the spring air. I don’t need that anymore, I lectured to myself. I can pass the test. I have passed it. I can be straight for as long as I live.

I didn’t want to search for a woman’s touch at the cost of my children, my family, my future. I refused to be another pretty face seeking comfort in the drunken night. I leaned against the streetlight, watched a crowd of women as they stood in groups, shared cigarettes, kissed in ways that involved their entire bodies. I told myself I felt nothing at all.

I drove away and back to the suburbs, showered it all off along with the memory of myself. The self that came alive at the sight of sin. I shoved that self deep into the corners of a closet that I would leave behind when I said I do to Eli, and to the promise of a shore on the other side of the turbulent waters.

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