When I was a horny college senior in love with a Catholic boy from the East Coast, I never would have believed that one day I'd be an Orthodox Jewish wife with two beds in my room. "No way," I'd have said, if you'd told me that my husband would sleep in a twin bed shoved against the wall and I would check the color of mucus in my underwear until seven "clean" days had passed since my period and I could dunk in the ritual bath, or mikvah.
I've always been Jewish, but I didn't become Orthodox until I was in my twenties. I chose this way of living because I liked the way Orthodox husbands looked at their wives—with smoldering sensuality, hidden knowing, and reverence. They spoke sweetly and didn't play games, and I never saw the flicker of distance in their eyes. After years of dating guys who didn't pay for my dinner, much less pay attention to me, I was ready for a real connection. Hooking up wasn't getting me what I wanted: love. It was time to try something else, and this looked like a world I could get into. There are many elements of Judaism that keep me religious, but the most compelling one is observant marriage.