Walking the Streets Alone at Night

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with Copenhagen. Dave and I were on a trip of Scandinavia, visiting Stockholm and Copenhagen, while Dave was interviewing for jobs here. We went to a bar with some of his future co-workers and by the time we left the bar, it was late at night. Most likely, it was a weeknight (he had a job interview that day) and so the streets were nearly empty. We had to use Google maps to get back to our hotel. And as we were making our way through the maze of the old buildings in downtown Copenhagen I realized that I was experiencing something I rarely experienced before while walking around a city at night. I felt no fear.

I still love Seattle, I really do, but my god, I do not want to walk around downtown at night. Even if I have my husband with me.

Here, in Copenhagen, I walk around the city at night – by myself – all the time and get so much pleasure from it! I have a class that ends at 10 pm and when I leave (weather permitting), instead of heading straight for the Metro, I try to get lost on my way to another train station.

The city tends to be really crowded during the day. The crowds make it a little annoying to get from one place to another. At night Copenhagen is never deserted, but it lets you take it all in on your terms. It’s only at night that you realize how wide the pedestrian streets are.

A long time ago I came across a book called “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. The subtitle of this book is “Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence”. And I agree, fear is a survival mechanism. But there are healthy amounts of fear and unhealthy amounts of fear. Living in America I realize that too often I experienced unhealthy amounts. Here, I may be becoming complacent. I don’t know. Is it wrong to not be constantly looking into the shadows and over your shoulder?

As a woman, before moving here I rarely could walk around at night, of any city, and feel completely at ease. This is the main reason (there are others) why I don’t ever want to leave this place. Here, in Copenhagen, I finally am experiencing the kind of freedom that women – practically anywhere – rarely do.

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