How I stopped worrying and learned to love walking in the city at night | The Coast Halifax

How I stopped worrying and learned to love walking in the city at night

It's 9:30pm and while finishing a game of darts the other night (yes darts, that's a story, but not this story) in the north end, I posed a question on Twitter. "Is it OK to walk from Lady Hammond Road to the Macdonald Bridge to catch the bus?" As is typical with the Halifax Twitter community, response was swift, helpful and wide-ranging: "What time of day?" "Are you alone?" "Not on your life." "Sure, it's well-lit." "I wouldn't that late." I said "I'm doing it" and walked anyway. Alone.

Walking through the city is usually when I do most of my self-reflection. That night was no different. The entire Twitter conversation didn't sit well with me. Why was I uneasy about walking at night? Why were the responses so varied? Why is chocolate do delicious? Oh wait...movin' on.

We all know that personal and public safety is an important and complex issue. Some people have had terrible encounters and are wary. If you are looking here for clarity, I don't have answers and don't pretend anything else. The purpose of this "story" is to try to understand why I felt uncertain and needed to ask for advice. Yes, I was in an unfamiliar area of town. Yes, it was later in the evening. Yes, I didn't know the bus schedule. But why did I hesitate? Most days I'm the bold and brash one.

Let me put some perspective on this. My hometown in Newfoundland is not big enough to be even classified a hamlet. It's "Halloween, all six kids trick-or-treated together, one ding-dong of the doorbell and you could turn your lights off" small. I never locked my apartment door when I first moved here---never saw the need and never had an issue. Then, bit by bit, people started warning me about things: "Don't go there. Don't do that. Fear this. Fear that." And I became nervous. Not that anything has ever happened to me, but because people said it was scary. I avoided doing things, going places and meeting new people because of fear.

At this point of my walk I am getting annoyed. It's 10pm for frig sake! Shouldn't a person be able to get where they need to without looking at places and people suspiciously? Hold up, I am walking through the city. It's well-lit. No one is hassling me. I'm safe (except the driver who saw fit to blow through the crosswalk to get to Tim's---poor dear, those Boston cremes won't eat themselves). Wait! Shadowy figure! Nope---a left-over scarecrow waiting for garbage pickup.

As I scurried along my shoulders relaxed, my stance became less vigilant and I started to enjoy the walk. Wow, people really get into Christmas lights, cool. Did you know that lots of folks have the friendliest dogs? I gave a chin scratch to at least three of them. Some drivers are lovely. I had one call out, "You're brave to be walking in this cold in a skirt and tights!" as they waited for me to cross the street. I chuckled and waved. The night view from the Macdonald Bridge is stunning. The pedestrian walkway is lonely. The person working at the toll booth waved back at me (I think they were a little concerned). Legs become numb to cold after about 15 minutes of walking. I need to do more for the community. Boot camp is hard. Chocolate is still delicious.

Remember...I'm thinking AND walking.

This is what happened in the one hour and five minute walk/bus/walk from the north end to near Cole Harbour: I became cold and refreshed at the same time. I spoke to nice people, smiled a bit too. Other than that, pretty routine.

During my 17 years in Halifax my perception is ever-changing. Some testaments always remain. Do I need to be alert and be smart about how I manoeuvre throughout the city? Yes, that's true everywhere. Do I let my nervousness of what "might be" stop me from doing? No, never that.

This city is made up of good people. Maybe I should simply trust them more.

Lori McKinnon thinks about stuff, occasionally has a good idea, but is known for a good ramble. Epitomizing awkward since 1972. She’s on Twitter as @pitcherplantnl. Read with a grain of salt. Heck, a whole shaker full…