The boat approached the landing where we would soon dock in a foreign land of magic and mystery. My wife leaned over and held my hand tightly, our four year old resting snugly on her hip. The laughter and joy was happening in slow motion around me. In just a few moments I would join the thousands of others in the reverie, but first I had a funeral to attend. When I stepped off of that boat and onto this sacred ground, I would be burying the broken parts of my childhood, and yet at the same time reclaiming something special.

“Simba didn’t have a home, but he was king, Cinderella rose from the ashes, and a pauper named Aladdin had his wishes granted… maybe there was hope for us after all?”

When I was a child, my father lost everything and our family became homeless nearly overnight. The heartbeat of my normal childhood came to a sudden and hard stop. My siblings and I would find solace from the fear as we would take reprieves from the harsh reality around us and into the magical world of a classic Disney film. Simba didn’t have a home, but he was king, Cinderella rose from the ashes, and a pauper named Aladdin had his wishes granted… maybe there was hope for us after all?

disney castle edit

“But that day never came, and my childhood came and went. My obsession with chasing the mouse was replaced with a deep and motivated desire to save others from going through what I did as a child. I devoted my life to fighting for the rights of the poor and homeless, hoping to help create a better world.”

My father would softly promise that once everything got better, once work came back around and we had a home, that he would take us to Florida and we would meet the Mouse who started it all. That promise became the X upon the map leading us out of poverty. My siblings and I knew that once we got to walk through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, all was well again.

But that day never came, and my childhood came and went. My obsession with chasing the mouse was replaced with a deep and motivated desire to save others from going through what I did as a child. I devoted my life to fighting for the rights of the poor and homeless, hoping to help create a better world.

18535161803_ce70654d70_o2

“Whatever disappointments my daughter had with me, they would all be from my own failures. I had broken the cycle.”

As my wife and daughter stepped off the boat, I took a deep breath and felt a little hand take my own. Suddenly, I was able to be a kid again, not a homeless kid, not a child afraid of the police kicking us out of a motel room for not paying, just a really, really big kid. I realized in that moment that whatever mistakes I made from that moment on, they would be my mistakes. Whatever disappointments my daughter had with me, they would all be from my own failures. I had broken the cycle.

Now, my family is embarking on a new journey to help bring awareness and fight for solutions to end childhood homelessness. You can help us reach our goal by purchasing my new book Chasing the Mouse.

It isn’t enough for me to just sell copies of my book and make money, though that is empowering all by itself. I want to use my book to change the conversation on how we see and respond to the issue of childhood homelessness. With an estimated 2.5 million homeless children in America, we have to try something bold and different. That is what this experiment is about, and that is why I am telling my story. We are just trying something different, because whatever we’ve been doing as a society isn’t working.

Author

Nathan Monk is a husband, father, author, and former Orthodox priest who writes about growing up in childhood homelessness, and brings awareness to the social and justice issues related to first world poverty.

Comments are closed.