Sense of security in darkness

Working on my dissertation, I’ve been walking home from the IC library late night quite often these days. Don’t be concerned, I’m not overworking. I’m just an owl kind of person. I like to work at night, and don’t get up until noon the next day. I’m productive that way.

West Street (in Sheffield) is usually rowdy at 2 in the morning. Drunk people from the pubs helping each other, police on stand-by, and the guy from Fried Chicken make me feel safe and steady.

After being robbed (sort of) on my trip to Rome, the danger sensor in my mind has just upgraded to work a lot harder. Sometimes I worry about theft in crowds, and robbery in quiet places.

Three months ago, I was walking down a long, empty road in Lisbon after watching Eurovision final live. It was after midnight, and somehow the thousands of Eurovision fans soon vanished in Lisbon’s dark night. I walked alone for at least 10 minutes, didn’t see a single person, and my phone died.

Suddenly a man showed up in front of me, from nowhere. I was a bit frightened, subconsciously dodged him to a side of the road. Turned out it was just another guy walking at night. I think he was also shocked by my strange behaviour.

Walking along, I kept thinking about this. If this was in London, I wouldn’t have been that worried. If in Sheffield, I wouldn’t worry at all. Lisbon was not much different to England, and that road wasn’t that dark either. It’s just me losing my sense of security.

Last winter I was traveling in Moscow to visit my old dorm and old friends. I remember that route so well: 40 minutes of metro, 25 minutes of bus, then walk for 10 minutes, I’m at my former dormitory, and the very edge of Moscow city area.

I’ve walked that area so many times at night, never felt any insecurity, even though it was famous for public security problems. But this time, I was surprised by how dark and empty the street was at night. Just like the one in Lisbon. When I lived there two years ago, I never felt that way. It was perfectly safe to me, reasonably illumined, and conveniently close to home.

I think the sense of security comes from the sense of home. Walking down the road, I knew I was only steps away from home, and felt peace in my heart. I’ve taken the tall building at the east end of Moscow as my home. I’ve taken Vita in Sheffield as my home. That feeling can be a luxury for me, as I’ve been moving a lot in recent years. And I’m physically small.

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