Preserve your memories

Melissa O’Brien

To everything there is, indeed, a season. I don’t think I ever thought terribly clearly about my time in Charlotte closing down, but here we are. My daughter Coco is graduating from CCS in a few weeks. She started there in pre-K and so it has been a long journey, and though we are still in the process of determining what high school she will attend, my time here in this town will close when she graduates. For the past four years I have lived in two places, Charlotte and Pawlet, where I am the pastor of a UCC church and close to where my aging parents live. Though it has not been easy, I would have it no other way. Now we begin the next phase, hopefully with a lot less time on 22A.

My first memory of Charlotte, of having an awareness of Charlotte, dates back to the late ‘80s when I made visits to friends in Burlington after I had graduated from college and was living and teaching in Bedford, New York. For some reason I remember paying attention to the Charlotte sign on Route 7. Maybe some part of my subconscious knew what was in store for me.

I moved to Charlotte in about 2001, around the time I was finishing a master’s degree at UVM and right before Richard, my former husband, and I married. Eighteen years is a good stretch, though most certainly I have been around less and less over the past few years.

A lot has happened since I first settled on Whalley Road all those years ago. My boys have flown the coop for Montana and Lake Tahoe with nary a glance backward. This is what we want as parents, right? To release and hope that the release is a success, that our offspring are sturdy on their feet and can create community wherever they land. At one point Kristin Baker and I had a brief run as proprietors of Abel & Lovely on the corner of Church Hill and Hinesburg roads. That was a lot of fun and, mygosh, it’s been interesting to see all the enterprises that have occupied that space over the years.

The Brick changed hands several times during my tenure here, and new businesses are coming … something I never thought I’d see in Charlotte. We voted down sidewalks in the West Village but, by golly, there’s finally new life in the old Spears’ property, though I have fond memories of summertime burgers at Uncle Sam’s with the kids.

I have watched many people come and go over the years. All of the kids in my old neighborhood have grown and left; most of their parents now divorced. My dear friends, Polly, who once owned the Berry Farm, is now happily ensconced in Martha’s Vineyard, and Will Burhans, who once led the Charlotte Congregational Church flock, is now far off in Massachusetts as well. Some friends have died and some have simply moved on … we will all go eventually.

It was a time, that’s for sure … time it was … I have a photograph.

It’s time. The time does come. My folks are preparing to sell their homestead and may move back to the place where I grew up: Saratoga Springs. I have finished my second master’s degree, at the Fordham School of Religion, and I suspect there is a new ministry awaiting. Most recently I found myself feeling frustrated that we endure nearly eight months of mostly lousy weather in Vermont. The love affair may be winding down; it’s feeling like my older son, Sam, made a very good choice when he picked a college on the northern shores of Lake Tahoe.

I want to thank each of you for participating in one way or another in this truly worthy endeavor: hyper-local, nonprofit community journalism. I believe with all of my heart that it is an essential part of the fabric of a healthy community and that The News is in very good hands moving forward. Please don’t forget that the paper belongs to you and thus you are tasked with its care and feeding.

As a pastor I cannot leave without a blessing, a benediction. Allow me, if you will, this final liberty:

May we be courageous to take up our given work with joy and enter boldly into God’s great work of restoration. Many blessings, friends, and may every grace be yours.

You can read more of Melissa’s work on her website.