I had experienced episodes of shame before, but they never lingered long – never had my bouts been severe or sustained. It’s like when you’re sitting around a fire and an ember lands on your leg, there’s a singe but it dies, it dissipates; but this ember embedded and burned.
I don’t think anyone was shocked to see me go, but no one knew the darkness of soul that provoked my departure. I felt an intense desperation to escape the suffocating shame, and the most pragmatically promising solution (though admittedly shallow) was Hirah.
Hirah’s company always had an anesthetizing affect, and at the very least I knew he would keep me entertained for a couple of weeks. I really didn’t have a plan other than “try to forget.” On a few occasions I got asked, “How long are you here for?” and my mind would go blank. I remember giving convoluted answers, but I honestly cannot recall precisely what I might’ve said to people. It’s like a dream …you know you dreamt about something, but you can’t recollect the specifics. It was during one of these “dream sequences” that Shua and I hammered out the contract for his daughter. I certainly remember feeling enchanted with her that night (I am a man of chronic salacious moods), but the deal with Shua always had a ‘grandpa Laban’ aroma to it (maybe I’m just projecting the story of my mom and dad onto my soirée with this Canaanite family; but I never had any honest intention of committing to Shua’s daughter). In one sense it was certainly more than I bargained for, but on the other hand I can’t say that I assumed any real responsibility …by the time Shelah came along I wasn’t even around that much, I spent most of my time in Chezib.
As our boys got older I aimed all of my energy at making marriage arrangements for them. The goal of my life had become distraction …my chief end was preoccupation with anything other than being left alone with my own memories. I know it’s heartless, but the marriage arrangements had nothing to do with my affection for my sons (I regret this now, but as I look back I must admit it’s the truth) …I’ve always been good at brokering deals, and in those days I sought self-deification via negotiation. The Tamar – Er deal was some of my best work, and I entertained lofty notions of transcending my vault of self-contempt; but then I was confronted with the abrupt demise of both Er and Onan, and I retreated into an ensconced posture of self-preservation. I sent Tamar back to her father with the lie of Shelah becoming her third husband, and I resolved to be rid of her for the remainder of my days; but Tamar – as it turns out – would not only curb my ambition for amnesia, she would be my Kryptonite…