When a walk reminded me that oh, by the way, you’re a girl

Tonight I had a mad craving for milk tea.

So I went down from my apartment, took my first step on the pavement… and I shuddered.

It was pretty chilly.

I looked around, and realized it was much later than I thought. Maybe past 9 or 10 PM? I had been reading a book, and must not have noticed the time pass by.

Whoosh went a gust of wind, as if to interrupt my thoughts.

I smiled. In retrospect I hope I did not look creepy smiling by myself like that.

I smiled because it was exactly my kind of weather. Slightly chilly, but not enough to need a coat, with a gust of wind every now and then.

It was the perfect weather for a walk.

So I took another step… and I shuddered again. This time it wasn’t the weather.

A girl walking by herself at night, are you crazy?

Shuddered. Again.

Had I missed out on so many great walks like this, just because I’m a girl?

I looked around carefully:

Yes it was “dark”, but when does it really get dark in the city? The street was lit well-enough, and there were more than enough stores open.

Yes there were less cars, but wasn’t that part of the charm of a walk?

Yes there were less people, but finally it would be the chance to hear myself think.

I walked ahead, determined to enjoy my walk. Every now and then I would fall into habit.

Cross the street because the other side is better lit.

Check the pavement ahead of me for shadows.

Check the windows around me for movement.

Ugh. How can I enjoy my walk when I’m fighting paranoia at every step?

I had been so focused on trying to enjoy my walk, that I nearly missed the milk tea shop. Which was closed. And apparently had been for some time, given it was all boarded up with a notice at the door.

So I walked to the next nearest brightly-lit public space: a convenience store. And grabbed whatever bottled tea they were selling. It may not have been authentic tea. I didn’t care anymore.

I didn’t want to pretend to enjoy my walk anymore.

I walked back faster than when I came.

I was mad, furious, but most of all sad. The thought of past walks missed, the thought of  future ones I may never have… all because I’m a girl.