I feel like I’m leaving behind a bad relationship with an ex. I’ll make the required niceties if I’m asked about them, say I’ll always care for them and ask after them at parties with mutual friends, but really, I’m ashamed to be associated with them. And I’m worried it says something about me and my judgment.
It saddens me to be so far away from the country where I spent my formative years, to which I owe my sense of humor, my cultural references and my tolerance of lager, in search of a new home ― one where, for all of its advantages and benefits, I have felt homesick, have longed for a kindly old-age pensioner to call me “duck” in passing, and have cried during heat waves when I so desperately wanted to be in a British beer garden.
I had the luxury of choosing to move to a European capital and, providing the Danish government keeps its promise of allowing British citizens to keep the rights they entered with, I’ll have the luxury of remaining after Brexit.
This was never a life-or-death situation for me, which I will never take for granted. But knowing that the general public voted overwhelmingly for something that could be life or death for those more vulnerable, and caused me and many others to leave in the first place ― including cuts to the arts, privatisation of the National Health Service, austerity disproportionately affecting women, zero-hour contracts and a general lack of power for employees, uncontrolled rents and stagnant pay, loss of freedom of movement ― sure makes it a bitter pill to swallow.
A lot of people feel robbed by this election. The feeling of despondency after such a surprising result, albeit a shock amplified by the echo chamber, is hard to shake. Everyone who saw the potential for change for the better and hope in this election will feel like they’ve lost a bit of their home, but for Britons abroad who don’t get to be a part of the eventual healing process, this loss feels extreme.
The small acts of community and strength that I’m sure will be aplenty in the following days won’t reach Copenhagen. I won’t be privy to the moments of kindness on the tube or in a pub somewhere in Hackney. Instead, my understanding will be formed the way the rest of the world’s is: through the news. So far there has been coverage of protests, but there have also been reports of British Muslims preparing to leave in wake of Boris Johnson’s victory, and an attack on a Muslim member of London Underground staff by a man calling her a “dirty fucking Muslim c**t” ― all within 24 hours of the election results rolling in.