On Walking at Night

By Rosie Southgate

It’s midnight in the city and I’m alone. Slightly sweaty and aching at the calves, I wipe my hand across my forehead as the last of today’s make-up gives up on me, restoring my face to it’s natural and dubious glory. Richmond hill in its steep and grey way has become a nightly pilgrimage for me, a calm and reliable softness in a city that grows busier every day. And louder. The jazz weekend hangover seems to be descending upon Cork like a flu, with ugly reminders of fun and questionable liquids still on the streets. It’s just me up here, although against the furthest bench I can see a black outline and I can’t tell if it’s a man or bag of rubbish. I sit.

Credit: Twitter

In this Weinstein-tainted era, it is probably wise to stop walking at night. In this society where as a girl you are repeatedly told not to go out at night alone, going out alone at night has become one of favorite pastimes. I stand up and walk on, the cold descending upon my fingers and ruining my moment looking over the Shandon bells.

Down on McCurtain street I meander past kebab shops housing mini-skirted women and past chippers where men in white polo shirts give hungry looking teenagers bags of delicious grease.

A man is walking towards me, with the brisk and certain walk of a person who is going somewhere. Behind him, bohemian sorts saunter along towards the hostel bar in woolly jumpers and hiking boots. The Everyman and the Metropole look chic, lit up in a middle-class sophistication sort of way, and I cross the street to avoid eye contact with a woman sitting outside Centra. She looks cold, but I look purposeful. In the distance coming down Summerhill, I see a skinny man whom I once had a thing for, aloof and wearing blue headphones completely oblivious to the world around him, something I always admired. Rounding the corner, I pass a bowling alley I never noticed before and bear down towards the river. All is quiet, apart from a few taxis, awaiting their spooky passengers.

The river makes a fuss, a whirly splosh of black water against green slime. I head for home, now feeling more alone and somehow less inclined to stay out. Maybe it’s the dimmed streetlights. I jam the red plastic buds into my ears and select choons for the walk home, no longer listening to the city.

This article was originally published on Rosie’s blog, rosiesouthgate.wordpress.com.