Today is New Year’s Day and usually by this point in the holiday season I have already heard Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne” at least once. Sadly that hasn’t been the case this year so I pulled this up today. I remember hearing it as a little girl in the back seat of my mom’s old rust orange Chevy Nova during this same time in late 1980, very early 1981. It’s a song with a piano melody and chime-like sounds that could very well be a piece out of my son’s holiday recital.
But it’s the first line that draws you in. “Met my old lover in the grocery store, the snow was falling Chrismas Ee-ee-eve.” You hear the line and instantly wonder what happens. According to this, the song is based on something that really happened to Fogelberg on a trip back home to Peoria during the Christmas of 1975. He ran into an old girlfriend who he hadn’t seen in years so they start catching up and end up with a six-pack in her car. They talk and laugh, and she gives a kiss before driving back into her life.
Do you ever wonder what happened to an old boyfriend or girlfriend, especially from high school or college? I think we all do, and it’s totally okay. It doesn’t mean we’re not content in our current relationships. Just because you decide not to spend the rest of your life with someone from your past it doesn’t mean you don’t wish him or her well in life and wonder where he or she is. That’s what makes this song so timeless.
Sadly though, what is slipping into the past is the part about going home and randomly running into someone at the grocery store, at a bar, on a street walking your dog in the neighborhood. I mean, all you have to do is a simple Facebook search if you’re really curious about the person with whom you shared your first kiss, or the person you dated for maybe years and shared everything with, the one who could have been the one. Someone like the woman in “Same Old Lang Syne.”
Now it’s as simple as clicking on the “Add Friend” button. Sometimes you don’t even need to do that. Even the profile picture can reveal so much. My daughter accompanies me in mine. You can also sometimes see the relationship status without being a “friend” and know if they are single, engaged, married, separated, divorced, or even just that it’s complicated.
Does that provide immediate gratification? Of course it does. But I must say, something is really lacking. From status updates and pictures for the most part you know what has filled the space between then and now. You get to see what their kids and spouses look like, where they went on vacation last year or the year before, maybe a picture of what they ate the last time they went out to dinner. What is missing though is the color behind the picture you are looking at, like the hesitancy in the woman’s voice in the song when she tried to say she loved her husband, or the revelation that life on the road is not all a rock and roll fantasy.
The same is true not just for old boyfriends and girlfriends but also for others you know from your formative years. I have used Facebook to facilitate get-togethers, not with old boyfriends but with old friends from my past. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice meeting up with people but I am now old enough to know it’s just not the same when you know the story ahead of time. Our “tongues get tired” and “we run out of things to say” long before the six-pack is gone.
I miss not only Dan Fogelberg’s music – he died 8 years ago – but also the days of “Same Old Lang Syne”. I miss the surprise of being touched on the sleeve and the clink of two cold beer bottles in a parked car, and even giving that gentle kiss or hug goodbye. I miss the wishing and the wondering. Don’t you?