Eventually, it occurred to me that I wasn’t putting nearly enough money aside to get out of this situation, so I took everything I owned in this world which fit snuggly into two rolling suitcases, left them in the break room at work, and I started sleeping in subway stations.
I considered sleeping on the trains. That first afternoon I rode the 6 train from end to end and after looking at the subway maps for each line I realized that each train, regardless of the line, would eventually go through a part of the city that I would not want to be caught sleeping in. I decided, instead, to sleep in subway stations and those that I was more familiar with. I never slept in the same station twice, consecutively; more-often-than-not I stayed along the East side in the 70 – 80’s block(s) but I found myself a few times sleeping in Grand Central Station, which admittedly was, actually, pretty damn cool. Although one of the only two times I was woken up and pressed to move by the police I was in Grand Central. The second time I was asked to move, I found myself in Times Square at 3:ooAM, which is actually more-or-less abandoned at that time, and I slept, until I was forced to leave, on a large plastic hand installed as an art exhibit in Times Square earlier that year.
I didn’t sleep every night.
I spent most nights wandering around New York City. I would walk myself awake until I couldn’t stay awake any longer, I would sleep every 36 or 48 hours and only for 5 or 6 hours at a time. On occasion I would stay a night or two at newly developed friends houses but I never wanted to take advantage of that hospitality; I’d shower on these occasions, and at the Y as often as possible.
It didn’t take long for me to feel really comfortable in New York.
A game I played when I didn’t have anything else to do was to let the Walk/Do Not Walk traffic symbols guide me through the city. If as I was walking the Walk symbol was illuminated, I would continue straight if, however, ahead of me was a Do Not Walk symbol I would arbitrarily decide to turn left or right. One afternoon, while I was playing this game, I noticed that a blonde woman about my age and I had been walking together for quite some time and we sparked a conversation, I don’t remember her name now, but we maintained a friendship throughout my time in New York and for a few years after. Life soon got between us, but I do still think about her from time-to-time.
I found an apartment in Brooklyn. I was living directly across the street from the Brooklyn Museum. This was also the only apartment I had in New York where I would have rooftop access, and a beautiful view of the Midtown area.
Many Museums in New York had first or second or third Friday Nights and they would open the museums up there would be events, music, food the first one I experienced was at the Brooklyn Museum that I happened upon when I heard the noise coming from outside my apartment. I made it a point afterward to attend as many as I could throughout the different boroughs.
I lived in Brooklyn for a year. I moved in to a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West side, on Broadway Street at 96th with a friend of mine, where I would live for another year. Following that I had a very short stint in Washington Heights before spending the next two years in Parkchester, in the Bronx.
So, I ended up not too far from where I would start, in the Bronx not but several short blocks from the apartment that wouldn’t be, across from the Bronx Zoo & Botanical Gardens.
I was glad to have that experience, being homeless in New York City. There is very little, at this point in my life, that I cannot do because there’s very little that I haven’t done. And, much of life is shadowed with a fear of the things we haven’t done, coupled with the fear of failure.