I’m picturing myself in Soulfully Gay, an imaginary movie adaptation of my spiritual autobiography. In the opening scene, a young boy about 9 years old runs through the woods at sunset, sobbing as he goes along. He is solitary and frightened. It is 1978 in the Wenatchee National Forest.
Narrator (Voice Over): “The author of Soulfully Gay called this incident his ‘Childhood Wound’. It makes sense when you think about it, that a boy who is loved by his family should feel so terrorized by their abandonment. But there is a double meaning to consider.”
Joe continues to run. Then stop! He trips and falls. He is face-to-face with the carcass of a deer, his eyes looking into the face of death.
Cut to Seattle, 2003. Joe’s therapist’s office.
Harry, Joe Perez’s therapist: “How old were you when this happened?”
Joe Perez, a man in his early 30s: “Nine. It was my birthday.”
Cut to 1978. The 9-year-old boy gets up and continues running. He finds a road. He waits for someone to come by.
Joe Perez (voice over): “I was lost all morning and into the afternoon. I was totally alone. I cried the whole time. I felt so ashamed. And I thought I was going to die. Then I got lucky. I finally found a road. After another hour or so, a man on a motorcycle drove by.”
Cut to the road in the forest. The child waves for a motorcyclist to stop. They speak for a moment, and then the boy gets on the back of the motorcycle.
The therapist sits up straight.
Joe Perez: “I waved the man down and he took me back to my family’s camp at Clear Lake.”
Harry: “And then?”
Joe Perez: “Nobody had even noticed that I was missing.”
The 9-year-old boy arrives at the family’s campfire where his parents are gathered with many aunts and uncles. The family continues to prattle about the fishing, and pays no attention.
Harry: “There were no search parties. Nobody was worried about you. Nobody went looking for you. They didn’t see you.”
The 9-year-old boy turns away from the campfire toward a camper. His 18-year-old brother stops him.
Bobby: “Where do you think you’re going?”
Young Joey can’t reply, he is too distressed. He just sobs and wails until he is calmer. They stand at the entrance to the camper, sheltered from the sight of the other campers. Bobby stoops to listen to his younger brother.
Young Joey: “Nobody cares about me.”
Bobby: “I love you Joey. I thought you got on the boat. I didn’t know.”
Cut to: Bobby tucks Joey under a blanket.
Joey: “I love you Bobby.”
Bobby: “If you need someone, call on me.”
Bobby turns to go.
Joey: “I prayed to God. He didn’t answer. He left me out there alone and I could have died.”
Bobby: “If he didn’t answer, then who brought you home?”
Bobby closes the camper door and wanders off. Under the moonlight and starlight, he is embraced by another man. The campers talk on, telling stories in Spanish and English in the summer evening.