February this year, I said as a joke and a truth, “If he gets in, I am not coming back to the States for at least four years.”
The room full of office workers laughed with me. America was the butt of the joke. Trump was a joke. We thought it all rather funny.
He spewed hateful words. Became the Republican candidate, and we looked on with a laugh and a sigh, “Oh, ‘Merica. What are you doing? You silly buggers.”
We watched and laughed at every ridiculous word. Every scandal. Every tape that confirmed what we all knew.
On Monday and Tuesday, our laughter continued. Surely no. Surely that would never happen. But fear clouded our eyes.
Wednesday morning, we watched and pointed and giggled. “He can’t win. There’s no way.”
I say with a deadpan look on my face, “I’m serious. If he gets in, I’m not going back for at least four years. No joke.”
Laughter. “Oh, Mel. You have nothing to worry about.”
Midday, and the first of the swing states, Florida, has swung.
I laid my head onto my desk and cried my first tears.
“Commiserations, Mel! She can come back into the lead.”
But I knew, and my fear became my reality.
The faces of my peers watched in abject horror. Their smiles faded and were replaced with sadness and fear. Sober and wishing they weren’t, they watched on.
“What does this mean for us?” they asked.
No one was brave enough to answer.
Instead we went home to our lives, said “Oh ‘Merica” on social media, and tried the best we could to move on. Some made jest of it; some drank. Most just looked back in horror. Will anything ever be the same again?
“Prove us wrong, ‘Merica. Prove us wrong.”