The Monthly Lead is a collection of Stories, Articles, Polls, & Interviews from our Sundown United Senior Staff. The Lead, from across America to Korea, spotlights community in all its different shapes and beautiful varieties in a monthly theme that is discussed, debated, and decided amongst our fans and SDU staff. A Lead to inspiration. Welcome to July’s Theme – THE COMEBACK
Introduction By Nathan Klayman – Lead Contributor // Dallas
When I was 11, my mother went on vacation to New York City. When she returned, I learned that, instead of the souvenir I had requested, she was married to someone I had never heard of, and that we were moving. Three weeks later, my mother and I, and all that we owned, drove to New York.
That’s how I found myself, one month later, at a table in a sidewalk cafe across from Central Park. My mother had disappeared inside to do…something. Order a drink. Use the bathroom. Maybe she was calling my stepfather to argue, because they seemed to do that a lot. I had no idea. All I knew was the feeling that goes with sitting across from Central Park in summer, and the willingness to sell one’s 11 year old soul for a return ticket to Texas.
And then came a voice, directed at me from two tables over. I looked up in confusion, to see a Jamaican man in a tie-dyed t-shirt, looking at me. As I stared, he said, “Don’t be so sad. The heart of a young man is a lion. You may not feel now, or always, but it there, burning. Always.”
I wasn’t sure what he meant, or what to think. I started to ask, but as if on cue, my mother magically returned, and I turned away. When I looked back a minute later, the table was empty. I started to tell my mother about what happened, to ask what he might have meant, but the look on her face stopped me.
One month after that, I no longer had a stepfather, and we were back in the van to Texas. I tried hard (and mostly succeeded) to forget most of that time, but I never forgot those words, even though I still wasn’t clear on the meaning.
That was in 1986, and the difference between then and now may just as well be another world, instead of the simple passage of time.
The years since then have not always been easy; there have been times when I felt like giving up. When life was harder than climbing to the moon, and every night was a telephone that never rang. Times when the only money I had was a dream about finding a dollar. Things are better now, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t those same hard times that finally pieced it all together, about what that man meant, all those years ago:
The heart of a young man (and a young woman) is indeed a lion – untameable, and unconquerable. As we get older, we forget that, but the reality remains: deep down, that same lion remains. Older, perhaps even a tad wary, but no less unconquerable for the passing of years. The lion at the heart, at the center of us – that lion that is the spirit of triumphant return. Of coming back, coming up, and success. Of chasing dreams, and breathing pure white light.