I make a soft landing on the sixth floor of the Stiles Office Building in downtown Fort Lauderdale where I am housed for four days as a temporary receptionist. It’s cushy and the atmosphere is friendly. I meow all over everyone wanting to be taken in like some wily alley cat. Instead of brushing up against everyone, I inject humor into every conversation, but with subtlety; two coworkers are still laughing. I’m counting how many more I have to nail before the offer will be made. A week of this and I may have them convinced I'm their new receptionist phenome. Then, like other felines, I’ll nest with my teacup and curl up around the computer to write.
Being downtown reminds me of Munich in the spring of 1965. Then the air was clear like fine wine and walking down Leopoldstrasse in Schwabing, I felt like a model in my new suit. 40 years later, I am at the intersection of Andrews Avenue and 2nd Street in Fort Lauderdale and get a whiff of diesel fuel from buses and trucks, the memory stretching me back to Marienplatz and my life as a free agent. From the point of marriage until now, I have been anything but.
So it isn’t lost on me that my return home to South Florida and my flock, picks up where I left off and gathers nostalgic feelings, matching those of 40 years ago. It feels like a circle wrapping itself around me.
And I? I have just begun to declare my independence. But this does not mean I am impervious to the flashy smiles, nor am I a formidable opponent. My leggy accessibility and sensibilities have matured and I welcome this newly formed government of one.
When I go home tonight, I will peel back the unnecessary layers in my mind and jot down the particulars of my own bill of rights. Unlike national governments, the procedures and rules, the politics of dependent governance will not play out. The system will be simple; true independence demands it.
Meanwhile, I walk back from the office kitchen with my tea and pass by The Magnolia Room, where a conference is taking place. Just as I pass by the frosted glass windows, I hear a round of applause.
“Oh, it’s really nothing,” I say shamelessly.