For accuracy's sake (and also that of understanding), this post was written on 3rd July. The Brexit vote was on 23rd June. The post took a little longer to finalise than expected.
Around 1.41 a.m. on Sunday morning I had an epiphany. I was at a Belgian wedding, shaking moves to Euro-trance music on the dancefloor beside an assortment of European mongrels. An assortment of characters with birthplaces spanning Spain, the UK, Belgium, France and Germany.
And my thought was: this is the Europe we'd wanted. This, right here. This is what we'd hoped for.
The trance beats were pulsing. It was the weekend after the night before. The night when the UK affirmed it's intention to leave the EU after 33 years of unhappy marriage.
Now, it's clear that this Sunday morning dancefloor version of Europe is one that not everyone is lucky enough to know. To many, it might just look like a Vengaboys video. But for me, someone whose daily life looks something like a Vengaboys video, this was it. I then spent the entire following week travelling back and forth between Germany, Belgium and France. A couple of days even at the epicentre of Eurosceptic hatred, the European Commission itself. And during that wedding and the week that followed, I must have answered the same question 14,242 times.
How do I feel about the UK leaving the EU?
I had woken up, stared at the phone lying beside my bed and blinked. So it goes. There's no next-day pill that was gonna solve that.
I've never hidden my standpoint on Britain's membership of the EU. I'm an unabashed Europhile and believe that the EU is one of the (few) major successes of modern politics. But this post is not about my views on that. This post is about the next. The "still to come". And how we need to try and manage it.
Because the Brexit referendum didn't kill the UK in the EU. That vote was just the final breakup text message. The relationship was long dead.
Compared to many of our European neighbours, the UK's stance on participation in Europe has never been healthy. The UK has always considered itself a separate, more scrubbed-up and sophisticated version of "the continent". I once returned to Glasgow after living away for a year with some - admittedly questionable - facial hair stylings, and was told in a negative tone that it made me "look European". A silly thing to say to someone born on the European continent? Not in the UK.
And so the UK has always maintained an arm's length, noncommittal relationship to the rest of the continent. It has long harboured hopes that it's real love, the one that got away - the USA - would realise it's errant ways and come back to bed. That they would fall back into the uneven arms of the "special relationship". And spend evenings recounting the times when both countries felt that they could - together - take on the world.
The fact that this special relationship has reverted to an occasional booty call, used for the odd partisan favour, has never affected the UK's longing. The vast Atlantic remains for the UK so much easier to cross than the English channel.
The UK has never felt comfortable in the EU's polyamorous love-in. The EU's higher ambitions, to spread peace and welfare across the continent, are often painted as hippy idealism. A bristling move away from old patriarchal power structures. These feelings have long been there. And they are there still. In over eight years of living abroad, I don't recall a single instance of bigotry aimed at me for my nationality. By contrast, it took only one bout of snow in Glasgow during a time we had some German exchange students at my high-school for the old 1940's bile to come out.
And so it goes. It got easier to blame Brussels, than to deal with the failings of the country itself. And when one or both parties fails to commit to the relationship, resentment starts to set in. Resentment grew. And then the UK left.
It's a scene that normally starts a Hollywood movie, rather than ends it. But despite my European-leanings/lovings, now that the proverbial dust has settled, maybe it wasn't the wrong decision.
Like in any relationship, there comes a point when one or both parties need(s) to admit that things aren't working. And if things aren't working, sometimes the only option is to break-up.
Sometimes we place too much emphasis on staying together. Or we are driven by fear. But if so few people in the UK can truly get their hearts behind the EU project, maybe leaving is the right thing to do.
I don't mean this to be flippant. I know that there will be very real, very tangible consequences for many people. At least in the short term.
But Brexit doesn't need to be a deathknoll for either the EU or for the UK. There will be some temporary upheaval. But if handled correctly, the longer-term negative consequences can be avoided.
What is important now is dealing with the breakup.
Both sides need to move on, to re-erect healthy boundaries and to cooperate on taking control of their side of the situation. The temptation is there for easy halfway measures. Or for post-breakup bitterness and spite. But neither will help much.
For the EU, it's time to clean out the closet. To concentrate on moving on with the countries who do still want to be there. The ones who still believe. To keep doing the good things and to improve on those things where improvements can be made.
For the UK, it's time for an honest reassessment. For redefining it's place in the world. For determining who it wants to be, and what it wants to stand for. And for avoiding, at all costs, abandoning the country to a hotbed of fury and intolerance. There will no longer be Brussels to blame. New targets will be chosen. It will take a lot of courage to defend them.
Should we have stayed together for the kids? Of all that the fallout that Brexit will bring, one of the saddest aspects is reduction in opportunities that the younger British generation will have to engage with their peers in the open European arena.
But remember kids: your time is going to come. Us oldies will die soon enough. And when your chance comes, take it.
Finally, to both the UK and the EU: you're still going to see each other at G8 parties and United Nations summits. So let's try not to make this too awkward.