Today I kidnapped the meter reader

The gas man dropped by to ask if I would let him install a new “smart meter” and I kidnapped him.

“Want some coffee? Water? What’s smart about a smart meter? I’ve got a friend who works for the gas company, maybe you know him? Boo, say hi to César the gas man!'”

“Hi, César Gas Man!” she shouted obediently.

It’s only been a few days in our new, QUIET (shout it loud!) neighborhood and I’m already aching for what I had: the ability to walk out of the house and meet up with other parents, kids, neighbors.

Not that the neighborhood is entirely to blame. It rained today and that scared me off my big first-day-on-the-bus plan. We were going to trek down to our old playground, but the weather meant that we’d’ve found a sopping emptiness, not friends. We couldn’t even explore our own street for the downpour and fog.

So, despite my best intentions not to become car-centric just because Working Mom can walk to the office, I found myself sitting in the driver’s seat with Boobaby fed, dressed for weather, and strapped into the back. The engine was off and we hadn’t left. I had no clue what to do.

I sat there. I called a couple of friends from the ‘hood to see if they could meet us for lunch. Too late – their plans were already set. I started driving aimlessly, figuring something would come to me. We could go to the museum – a little late for that, though. We could walk out the pier to see the sea lions – but that’s all the way over on the other side of town.

Imagine my surprise at finding myself pulling in at our old house. I came up with some excuse – “Here, I’ll bring up this bag of trash so we can dispose of it at the new house!” – but mostly I just wanted to be there.

We wandered the streets and stomped puddles for a bit and then stopped at an old haunt for a grilled cheese sandwich. We watched dogs at our dog park. We peered in at our playground – as expected, inundated and deserted.

Am I being desperately nostalgic? I’m allowed to visit the old neighborhood, right? Moving a couple of miles – heck, moving a thousand miles – never seemed like a big deal when I was young. Now it’s intensely uncomfortable, and maybe even a little sad.

Boo is unfazed by the change, though: the whole world is her neighborhood. A gas company truck pulled up behind us as I was strapping Boo in for the ride home (“home!”), and she, of course, assumed that the driver was the same meter reader she’d met that morning. “Hi, César Gas-Man!” she shouted at the (entirely different) driver. He smiled and waved back.

Maybe the whole world is your neighborhood, if you decide to make it that way.