For Auld Lang Syne

close up photography of a cocktail drinks
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Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

A few weeks ago, as I was driving home from the grocery store, I passed the apartment I lived in when I first moved to Tacoma. More than six years ago, I arrived in the City of Destiny without a job or a plan for what I was going to do with my life. That first apartment was awful — cold, mouse-infested, and dingy. As I drove on toward the house I now own, in my new-ish car filled with groceries purchased thanks to a good job with a steady paycheck, I got to thinking about how far I’ve come in the last 10 years.

There is something about the turning of a decade that feels like the end of a chapter. The fact that we break up years into groups of ten is, of course, completely arbitrary. But even so, history has layered previous decades with meaning and symbolism. We’ve even given some of them nicknames, like the Roaring Twenties. And so, I can’t help but want to mark this decade and leave my stamp on it, just as surely as it has left its stamp on me.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

This decade turned my life upside down over and over again. I graduated from college, fell in love, moved to the Pacific Northwest, found gainful employment, got married, became a published writer, saw the world, bought a house, challenged myself to write a novel. I’ve experienced the happiest days of my life so far, but also some of the darkest.

We twa hae run about the braes
And pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot
Sin auld lang syne.

There is a tendency to romanticize the past; to blur out the pain and struggle; to sanitize our memories like a social media feed. There’s nothing wrong with that. I certainly don’t want to linger on past hardships, but I can’t deny that those moments are a part of the story, too.

So, this New Year’s Day, I want to reflect on how far I’ve come and all that I’ve achieved and be grateful, but I also want to acknowledge that it’s been a rocky road to get here. There are always two sides to any story and no matter what the 2020s have in store, I’ll always carry my memories and experiences from this decade with me. As a kind, old Doctor once said, “We’re all stories in the end, just make it a good one, eh?” Happy new year.

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
Frae mornin’ sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a writer and storyteller in Tacoma, WA. You can read his short fiction in Creative Colloquy and Grit City Magazine or listen to his podcast about writing and the creative process, Dispatches with Jonny Eberle (available on all major podcast players) While you’re here, please join the mailing list!

P.S. – If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Scottish poem turned global New Year’s Eve anthem, give a listen to John Green’s review of Auld Lang Syne in the latest episode of his excellent podcast, The Anthropocene Reviewed.

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