I finished moving out of my apartment in New Hyde Park around 9:15 p.m. on August 1st. By 9:30 all my stuff was safely stored in two storage units in a nearby storage warehouse. I still hadn’t packed for my trip to Lancaster, PA, though, so I spent the next hour in the warehouse packing what I would need to take with me. The storage place is closed between 10 pm and 6 am, but I was assured that while entry was prohibited during those hours, exit was possible at any time. So, I left the warehouse, fully packed, at 10:30 p.m.
A funny thing happened in the parking lot, though. There is a gate that goes up when a car pulls up to leave. I didn’t have a car, just me, my suitcase, a knapsack, and some cut-up fruit. Together, we weren’t big enough to set off the automatic detection device, and the gate wouldn’t go up. There was a slim possibility that I might have been able to climb the gate, but the two laptop computers in my suitcase would never survive being tossed over the fence. So, I was stranded overnight in the parking lot.
I tried to regain access to the warehouse, but, since it was after 10, that didn’t work. Then it started to rain. I put my suitcase under the small awning outside the manager’s office and went to seek shelter for myself. There were about 20 vehicles in the parking lot and I started checking all the doors to see if they were locked. They were, until I got to the last group of vehicles and one of the vans was unlocked on the passenger side.
On August 1st, 1977, my soon-to-be-ex-wife moved to Carteret, NJ, and I decided that it was not in my best interests to move in with her. So, I lived in my van for two weeks until I found my own apartment in Weehawken, NJ. Now, exactly 36 years to the day later, I once again found myself homeless and seeking shelter in a van. Like Yogi Berra would say, it was déjà vu all over again.
It took me a while to get into a comfortable position, where I could maybe get some sleep, and as soon as I did, I realized that I hadn’t taken my nightly medications. I was exhausted from packing and moving all month, and I didn’t want to risk having a heart attack following all that exertion, so I got out of my comfortable position, put my sneakers back on and went to my luggage for my meds.
I didn’t have any water to wash them down, so I chewed some of the cut up fruit, added the pills and swallowed. Then I headed back to the van. I crawled back into the same position as before, but this time it wasn’t comfortable. I tried numerous positions, but none remained comfortable for more than a few minutes. So, I dozed and woke up, dozed and woke up continuously until 4 a.m. when I saw headlights in the rear-view mirror. The guys who emptied the dumpster arrived to do their thing. The gate was open. I seized the opportunity and my luggage and got out while the getting was good.
I caught the 4:11 train to Penn Station and arrived there around 5 a.m. I walked up to the Port Authority bus terminal to catch a bus to the motel in Secaucus, NJ where I had reservations. The bus terminal was locked closed!!! So much for New York being the city that never sleeps.
Eventually, the terminal opened and I caught a bus to Jersey. I got to the motel just a few hours before check-out time. Fortunately, they gave me a late check out so I could get some sleep.
Things got better after that. I stayed with my friends Barbara and Jim the next two nights and spent Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack watching the Hambletonian and other big Harness races.
Now, I’m on an Amtrak train headed to Lancaster, PA, where I will begin the search for my future apartment. I don’t know what the future has in store, but I’m looking forward to the adventure, and I hope it will be worth writing about.
Peace & Love and all of the above,