You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

by Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)

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released August 19, 2014


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Count Your Lucky Stars Fenton, Michigan

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Track Name: Ribbon
I nearly lost you on our wedding day

It was early afternoon, and you were leaving from lunch with your best friend
when your vehicle careened into an SUV as it turned out in front of you,
violently flinging you into the waiting airbag

You were shaken and dazed,
but otherwise ok

and still determined to get married

When I watched you walking down the aisle,
you were glowing

The scrapes and bruises only made you more beautiful
Track Name: I Was Somewhere Cold, Dark... and Lonely
I almost died at twenty-one

In January, driving northbound on Abbott Rd
the car in front of us slammed their brakes down hard
and slid off onto the right-hand shoulder

We were probably following too close,
but I honestly can't remember

We swerved into the turn lane
and lost control when we hit a patch of black ice
that would carry us right into the unavoidable path
of a Saturn barreling south in the opposite direction

My life did not flash before my eyes

I was trying to steer the van anywhere else
as time ground to a halt and froze

Then exploded violently
as metal collapsed into metal
at a horrific speed

There is always enough time to do the things you love
(until it's gone)
Track Name: We Are People Here. We Are Not Numbers
In the infancy of our relationship,
when we were almost exclusively hanging out
together with friends,
Cathy and I went to St. John's Applefest

It was held every fall in the parking lot of the Catholic church
I had attended as a youth,
converting the quarter-mile of parish grounds into a second-rate carnival
full of cheap thrills and poorly-maintained rides

We meandered through the crowds
like tourists,
eventually ending up at the pirate ship at the far end of the fair

(A mechanical boat that rose into the sky,
then swooped back down in the other direction like a swallow diving for insects)

Cathy was nervous and began to fidget, refusing to get in line
before our friends and I talked her into going

When the ride started,
any romantic idea I had of holding hands or an embrace
was quickly abandoned when I saw the white-knuckled grip on the safety rail
like she feared for her life
Track Name: A Keepsake
When I was eight or nine,
I took a trip up north with my brother, my father
and my uncle

We woke up early and packed bagged lunches
and cans of pop into a cooler,
and drove to a canoe rental in Mesick

We split up in two canoes

I imagined us as Lewis and Clark,
charting acres of unspoiled land
as the Manistee opened up like a canvas

We crawled at a slow, lazy pace
and reached the landing as the sun began to slide
behind the horizon,
and pulled our boats ashore

It was still warm and we were exhausted
so we jumped into the water to cool off,
as my uncle launched into a speech
about the history of the Petoskey stone
and how rare it would be to find any here

Then he reached into the river bed
and pulled one out on his first try

We spent the rest of our time trying to find another one
but came up empty-handed
Track Name: You Have to Be So Much Better than You Ever Thought
I spent one week every summer at Camp Tapico
for every year I was a Boy Scout

The camp felt like an entire separate country,
or as if the rest of the world had disappeared
and we were the only ones left alive

We traveled in packs
We rode our bikes everywhere

About ten or fifteen feet before we reached any destination,
I would yell, "Dismount!" and we would
swing our bodies over the frame in unison onto the left pedal
and coast to a halt

I felt like a grown up
(or how I imagined one must feel)
and I could mostly come and go as I pleased

One summer, sirens blared out over the camp PA
in a shrill and ugly tone with an infinite refrain
that carried for miles and miles

I had never heard that sound before

Our counselors were panicked and told us
to return to our campsites immediately

My friend Nate and I mounted our bikes and sprinted home
as branches fell all around us

It felt like we were the leads in a video game
and we were too caught up in it to understand we were in any real danger

When we got back, everyone was huddled under the mess tent,
except for Nate's brother and his friend,
who were stuck in a rowboat in the middle of Grass Lake
during the full brunt of the storm

The adults had to hold Nate back from going out after him
as the pair raced across the water like a glacier or a hawk

We watched from the shore and didn't feel the pouring rain
until long after they safely pulled in
Track Name: Stay Divided
My brother graduated college in spring,
and we were both living back home in the town we were raised in
for the summer

One afternoon, we went swimming on the lake across the street
with a couple of friends
by the house where my roommate my freshman year grew up

On a whim or a dare,
we decided to see if we could try and flip his parent's 300 pound swim raft

The four of us stood at each corner like they were the ends of the earth
and began to rock the vessel back and forth

It moved slow, as if it's body ached from old age
then stood up like a skyscraper before crashing back to earth,
scattering us like debris

We plunged into the water like stones

My brother and Dan surfaced first,
and probably aged a year for every second
before Pat and I came back up

We couldn't flip it back over,
so it just sat there like a turtle stuck on its shell
Track Name: Foxfire
I became an atheist the Junior year of my spring semester in college

My friend from back home moved into our already crowded two bedroom apartment
that now housed four
(and five when Cathy would move in later that year)

He was unyielding and used logic
like a hammer or a martyr,
and would hurl question after question across the four foot gap
between his mattress and mine

It absolved me of any last remaining doubt

There was a certainty that finally settled in
that had been torn open during my freshman year over a course in Cultural Anthropology

I am comfortable knowing that this is it

There is so much more beauty in a life that also has death
Track Name: Things Not Worth Fixing
After graduating from college,
I moved back home to my parent's house in Fenton

(It would be the first of three more separate stints)

My brother helped get me a part-time job
peddling paint at Sherwin-Williams

The idea was to stay for a year and save up
and plan for our wedding

All of our friends had already moved away
or were still off at school

So it felt like a ghost town
or defeat

I was not a model employee

I was frequently late and felt my education made me overqualified
and that the job was far beneath me

I reeked of youth! I thought the world was owed me!

Each morning, contractors would pour in like vultures on carrion
and pick the store clean
Track Name: If It's Bad News, It Can Wait
My three best friends and I planned a week-long trip
for our spring break during our senior year of high school

We were untethered and free and grown

We left before the sun rose and began the first leg
to Virginia Beach for a couple of days
before heading out to camp on the Outer Banks

When we arrived, we spent the first night playing video games
we brought from home in our hotel room

In the morning, we ventured out into the world
and wandered around until late at night
like spectators or ghosts
as artificial lights burned brighter than daylight
The boardwalk was teeming with youth
brashly claiming adulthood like it was the last day on earth

We retreated back to our hotel, exhausted

The phone in our room rang out at an ungodly hour
(when only bad things are on the other end)

I answered and gave it to Danny
so he could hear his brother passed away

He dropped the phone and bolted out into the hall,
blind with grief

We ran out after him, unsure of what to do

He threw off our embrace and escaped down the stairs to the beach

and haunted the shore of the Atlantic for hours and hours

I waited and watched from a nearby park bench

When he came back, we got into the car and drove the twelve hours back home
and made it just in time for the funeral
Track Name: It's So Much Darker When a Light Goes Out than It Would Have Been If It Had Never Shone
I was ten years old when my grandparents on my father's side
celebrated the 50th anniversary of their marriage

Our family piled into our tan '85 Aerostar
(the same one that famously died on the way to my
younger sister's dance recital when the entire drive shaft
dropped out from underneath and shot
like a torpedo down the open highway)
and made the three hour climb to Cadillac

There was a reception held at the local VFW hall
where my grandfather was a member

I remember meeting a lot of strangers
whose names or faces were either immediately lost
or never registered at all,

and how they would all tell us how excited they were
to meet us

Do you know how two trees can grow together and become like one?

When my grandmother died, my grandfather died too

It took two whole years to convince his body to let him go
Track Name: The Promise That Life Can Go on No Matter How Bad Our Losses
On New Year's Eve last December,
I was out on tour playing a show at the Fire in Philadelphia

while you were all alone at home
(the only body occupying our lonely apartment)

I watched the TV through the window from outside the bar
and counted down the seconds to the new year with you
over the phone

But I couldn't kiss you at midnight

I couldn't hold you in my arms

The sound of your voice was weighted,
like the way a branch heavy with snow bows down
before it breaks

Is this still worth putting our lives on hold for?

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