I don’t know where I am. I’m here. Present and accounted. But I’m just floating. I roam city streets with no awareness of the present. Is this a dangerous location? Am I being stared at? Am I being secretly loved, or openly loathed? Will the person sitting across from me on the subway stop staring at me, or will she scrutinize and study me forever more? Is she deciding what I am? Is she planning her comments to family or friends about the yellow-shirted white dude on the train earlier? What will she say about me? Who else will she talk about? Will she compare me to someone from another city, from another stage of her life?

I feel like I saw a lot of New York yesterday. Did any of it see me? Going places is not solely about seeing things but also about being seen.

I started at Planeview Park in East Elmhurst, looking for rats. I’d heard talk about dozens upon dozens of them at this park, in broad daylight. Wanted to see for myself. I did find evidence of rats. Holes ripped into garbage bags filled with food scraps, bite marks as well. There were burrows dug in the ground but those could have been dug by squirrels. One tree looked like it might have had holes in its base. I wanted to take a closer look but people were starting to eye me, wondering what I was doing taking pictures of garbage bags. I did not want to disrupt their serenity by announcing that this quaint little park was likely infested with big, fat rats.

So I left Planeview Park in East Elmhurst, destination Crown Heights, where a stroke of online serendipity clued me to the presence of an abandoned payphone there. My initial plan for a route from East Elmhurst to Crown Heights included the usual buses and trains of Western Queens, getting to a 3 train eventually. But across from the Planeview Park I happened to find myself at an M60 SBS stop. That’s the bus to from Laguardia Airport and the Upper West Side. I don’t suppose I’ve ever used that bus but it was like a miracle in this moment, depositing me at 125th Street and St. Lenox where a 3 train awaited. It was a long ride, even with the express flourishes. A man sitting opposite me seemed to find me fascinating. I could feel and see his contemplative stares, his mind reeling with questions. I ignored him, finding him harmless. He had a shopping bag with a boxed product in it. I imagined he was taking it back to a retail store for a return. The box had been opened. He would seem to have been on the train a long time already. I’ve seen people like this, who just ride the trains all day, looking at people. Maybe they are seeking members for their cult, or subjects for their art.

I made it to Kindstong Avenue where I did, in fact, find a payphone. It was not, however, the one I expected. This led me to seek out other possible locations along Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights. I found nothing but was happy to spot a new-to-me telephone exchange number. I don’t know what “SL” stands for but I expect to find out in due course. SLippy? SLappy? I cannot think of anything but I am confident it will seem obvious once I know what it means.

Crown Heights has its own NYPD dedicated police detail. Past troubles. Astoria has no such detail but there are floodlights that went up around the NYCHA projects, and what seem to be dedicated police detail for Ravenswood and Queensbridge. Crown Heights, for as much of it as I experienced, felt quaint with its relatively old signs and, again, the old SL telephone exchange name. I thought about getting a pizza slice but every place was packed with people eating pizza.

En route to my next destination I took a 3 train 2 stops to Prospect Park, where there was another unexpected payphone in the station. I next went over to the Franklin Avenue shuttle, for passage to … I con’t remember the name of the stop of the shuttle but I think it was Church Avenue. Somewhere on the Franklin Avenue shuttle I found yet another payphone, moldering away in useless oblivion. How many dead phones are there in the city subways? I never claimed to have found them all but I thought I knew where most of them were. Seems more and more await my discovery. Aside from the first one at Kingston Avenue I was honestly not expecting to make it another day of payphone discovery.

The final destination was disgusting as fuck. An abandoned garbage truck filled with (what else) garbage. So many questions. Who abandons a garbage truck in the first place? Why did they spraypaint over much of the identifying information, and remove the license plates? What is in this truck that stinks up the neighborhood for several blocks. Handwritten signs on the truck implire neighbors to call 911, to post to social media, to raise awareness of this putrid health hazard. I did my part in this realm but feel my impact will be nil. I came away from the proximity of that truck with a sharp headache. Fortunately the headache quickly cleared but I feel bad for anyone who has to live with this sudden stinkbomb right outside their apartment. It felt like some kind of ticking time bomb.

From there I headed home, finding a 4 express that got me to Grand Central relatively swiftly. Planned troubles with the N train meant I had to get a 7 from GCT.

Now I am being asked to comment on an obituary for a friend.