Same Old Lang Syne

Most years I find myself bringing in the New Year alone. Alone but by no means lonely. Those years have offered wisdom through quiet reflection. Other years I have written down the things that did not serve me well and let a single match do its work to turn paper to ash and float into the night sky as a lesson learned and a reminder that every event, every experience can and should move us away from the past and to the future we desire. This year will be different.

A few days ago I received the following note:

“I hope and wish for you Carey that at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve you are celebrating and happy with someone you love and care about…whatever you’re doing at midnight is how your year will follow.”

This was an affirmation of sorts. You see, I had already accepted an invitation to a New Year’s Eve party with friends several weeks ago prior to this message. I had already decided the start of this year, 2019 should be different. Reflections and resolutions have never meant to be confined to a single date and a midnight tolling of a bell. When you think about memories over time can fade and then there is little to reflect on. And “annual” resolutions rarely equal the resolve they are spoken with. If something isn’t worth changing NOW chances are you’re not going change it on January 1st of any year.

I’ve never really been one to dwell on the past. Those memories do little to move us forward and more times than not have us treading water in the present. But there are times when we do look back (and let’s face it…we all do) and have a greater appreciation for how far we have come. And although we still may have a long way to go it serves as an encouragement that we can get there. Perhaps that is why I have such a fondness, especially this year, for Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg. You should know that I love finding out what the “back story” is for anything! Those are the tales that give a song, a piece of art, a shutter-click their meaning. At least to the creator and usually to others as well. So are you curious about the inspiration of the song?

As Fogelberg said on his official website, the song was autobiographical. He was visiting family back home in Peoria, IL  in the mid-1970s when he ran into an old girlfriend at a convenience store. Fogelberg stated in interviews that he didn’t recall precisely whether the chance meeting with his ex-girlfriend was in 1975 or 1976, though he leaned toward 1975.

After Fogelberg’s death from prostate cancer in 2007, the woman in the song, Jill Anderson Greulich, came forward with her story. Greulich told of how she and Fogelberg dated in high school. As she explained to the Peoria Journal Star in an article dated December 22, 2007, the pair knew each other in Peoria as part of the Woodruff High School class of 1969. After graduation, each attended different colleges. Following college, Greulich married and moved to Chicago, while Fogelberg moved to Colorado to pursue a music career. While back in Peoria visiting their respective families for Christmas in 1975, Fogelberg and Greulich ran into each other on Christmas Eve at a convenience store located at 1302 East Frye Avenue in the Abington Hill district. Greulich confirmed that together, they bought a six pack of beer and drank it in her car for two hours while they talked. Five years later, after the song was released, Greulich heard the song on the radio for the first time while driving to work, but kept quiet about it, as Fogelberg also refused to disclose her identity. She stated that her reason for remaining quiet about her involvement in the song’s narrative was that coming forward would disrupt Fogelberg’s marriage.

Greulich noted that Fogelberg had taken artistic license with two details of the story: her eyes are green, not blue, and her husband was a physical education teacher, not an architect. In regard to the line, “She would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn’t like to lie,” Greulich will not talk about it, but by the time of the song’s release, she and her husband had divorced.

Boy, there’s a great love story. Where two people got to reminisce and experience some of those wonderful feelings they once had for each other. To revisit where they had been and discover how far they had come on their separate paths. I think the song speaks even deeper to me now knowing that Fogelberg never disclosed his “old lover” and Jill never shared her story until his death. Mutual respect. We often times don’t consider respect a form of true love but it is. Every bit as much as trust and honesty.

So, this year will not be the Same Old Lang Syne for me. I may not be kissing that special someone as the hands on the clock both point to 12 but I will be raising a glass to 2019 surrounded by friends I love and who love me. And what could be a better way to usher in the start of something wonderful?

Happy New Year my friends!

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