Tonight was the first time this year I’ve walked home at night in short sleeves and felt entirely comfortable doing so. Naturally, it reminded me of all the best times when I’ve been able to wander around in cities on bright, cool nights just after the sun has set: after Judo lessons back in North Vancouver, with Alison and Viktoria in Toronto last summer, and during the summer language bursary program in Montreal. In all those and other cases, I remember the incredible sense of ease that accompanies being free and comfortable in uncrowded streets.
The psychological effect of the pleasing climate is enormous, because it changes the way you feel about being in territory that isn’t under your control. During the icy morning in Chichester, frigid walks in Helsinki, or confused meanderings in London during the winter, I was always plotting where I would get some food, where I could get warm, where I could sleep. This leads to calculations of how long you can linger in a Starbucks with or without buying a drink, what time warm open spaces like malls and bookshops close, and how far you have wandered from the nearest place that you have a key or friend that can yet you into.
Wandering on a warm night, by contrast, projects at least the fiction that all the world is reasonably hospitable: that you can wander almost anywhere with few worries and comfort and adventure are simultaneously possible.