How “Closing Time” by Semisonic Became My Year-End Anthem

I’m not the one who gets emotional about endings except when a year comes to a close. To me, a year-end marks the passing of a period peppered with a curious mix of happy and sad experiences. The last few days of December make me stop for a moment, trod down the memory lane, and wonder at how time has flown so fast and how I’ve managed to get through the whole 365 days. But while everybody else is singing “Auld Lang Syne”, I cry along the words from the hit Semisonic song “Closing Time”.

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I was still a sixth grader when I first heard the song on cable TV. It wasn’t even an actual music video but a karaoke sing-along, so I have no clue as to its perceived meaning. My family was staying at my dad’s boarding house in Batangas for the Christmas vacation. I was listening to the song while few fireworks lit the dark New Year’s Eve skies. Then it hit me: this song would be my year-end soundtrack. It was, for me, a looking-back of the previous events during that year, a farewell song, and a toast to the coming year. The line “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” particularly touched an emotional nerve in me and it has since become one of my favorite quotes.

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Fast-forward to my junior year in college. We just came out of the campus that night we were dismissed for Christmas vacation. My friends decided to stroll in a nearby mall and sing at one of the karaoke rooms. I especially selected “Closing Time” for my turn on the mic. And as I was singing the line “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here”, some of the mall’s lights started to turn off—a signal for the last of the shoppers to prepare to leave the premises. I sang the rest of the song. “Closing time, time for you to go out to the places you will be from. Closing time, this room won’t be open till your brothers or your sisters come. So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits. I hope you have found a friend.”

I felt like crying that time. It was almost my last Christmas as a college student. The following year, I was scheduled to graduate. Though we didn’t drink any alcoholic beverages that night, we said cheers to the “job well done”—our studies—and looked forward to seeing each other again and remaining friends till the next year. And remain they did. We’ve been solid friends for almost a decade now.

This year, I’m looking back at how the days were spent and the bucket list items I’ve ticked off so far. It has been a tough ride but I’m proud to say that I have achieved two of my goals this year: one is to write for a website and one is to have my name posted as a byline. The line “I know who I want to take me home” doesn’t apply to me yet, as the song in its entirety so suggests (I know, it’s about a bar during closing hours). Though if I would indeed have a drink, I already have a picture in my mind of the man I’d definitely go home with.

Here’s to the good old times and all the wonderful things that await us in the coming year.