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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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 very 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 P.A.

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 weeklong 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 V.F.W. 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?