For Great Justice

My name is Jessamyn West. I was elected Justice of the Peace in Randolph Vermont on November 6, 2012. My term started February 1st, 2013 and lasts for three years. Do you need a Vermont JP?

More information on what a VT Justice of the Peace does (pdf)

Aug 15

fourth ceremony - text

“Do you want to be married?” “Yes” “Yes” “Then you are married.”

Shortest wedding ceremony ever. Got paid in blueberries.


Aug 4
Not sure what I am up to here. Look at those happy newlyweds. More photos of Virgil and Nicole’s wedding here.

Not sure what I am up to here. Look at those happy newlyweds. More photos of Virgil and Nicole’s wedding here.


third ceremony - text

PREAMBLE

3:30 ceremony, be there around 3? Kelly starts the processional/timing.

REMARKS

So pleased to be here. So happy for these two.

I’ve known Virgil since February 2011 when another librarian introduced us (hello Mary! librarians in the house!). We swapped email and interacted online and I remember seeing a photo of his new apartment on facebook or somewhere and thinking “that’s a lot of books for a small apartment” and also “I don’t know how anyone can sleep that close to their refrigerator.” Since then we’ve become fast friends.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Nicole was finishing up library school nearby in MA and their paths would soon cross in nearby New Hampshire.

By November of that year, every profile photo of Virgil was of him and Nicole. Together. Usually outside. Smiling and happy. Beaming really.

One day, last May the facebook told me:

“She said YES (-: — with Nicole Messerli.”

and a photo of a hand with a ring. And everyone was thrilled.

There is nothing like being with the two of them. They are a killer team.

I’ve been lucky enough to have them as neighbors  in Randolph where Nicole commutes up the highway to her library job and Virgil commutes over the mountain to his. They’ve joined my bar trivia team where Virgil’s sports knowledge and Nicole’s smarts about children’s literature and 90’s television have helped propel us to multiple championships. “Look out, the librarians are coming” people will say. We’ve helped outfit their place with Bud Light t-shirts and many promotional mugs.

Some days when there’d be a game on, I’d walk over and we’d watch the Red Sox together with the sound down low and listen to records on the record player and talk about what’s going on in town.  And tell stories. And laugh.

They’ve created a beautiful home together full of bright colors and nature photography and cozy places for their cats to sun themselves and notes to each other to have a great day (I fed your cats, they say congrats). I feel like I leave their home wanting to go out and be my best self. And this is what they bring out in each other.

Good librarians focus and support and amplify their environments which is exactly what Virgil and Nicole do at their jobs—places where they care deeply for their communities—and everywhere else they go for their families, for their friends and for the world.  Most importantly, they do this for each other.

Watching the two of them go from being two people in one relationship to navigating the paths towards a lifelong partnership has been a joyful endeavor.

We are all richer for their union.  And today is the day we celebrate it with them.

On this day of your marriage, Virgil and Nicole, you stand within the charmed circle of your great love and the greater circle of those who love you.

So look out, the librarians are coming. And they are better than ever.

READINGS

Jon Swartz (Nicole brother-in-law) - poem

Jess Carbone (car-BONE-ee, friend of Virgil) - “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin

VOWS

[brought own vows to the ceremony]

Virgil then Nicole then community

Virgil: Do you Virgil Take Nicole to be your lawfully wedded wife?

Nicole: Do you Nicole take Virgil to be your lawfully wedded husband?

Community: Do you promise to support Virgil and Nicole, to give them your good advice, go easy on your bad advice, share their joys and sorrows, their travels and their home, for all the days of their lives?

RINGS

SILAS “Do you have the rings?”

Virgil will you now place the ring on Nicole’s finger and repeat after me please?

I Virgil marry you with this ring, with my heart, with my body, and with all the syllables of my soul for all the paths and pages of my life.

Nicole will you now place the ring on Virgil’s finger and repeat after me please? 

I Nicole marry you with this ring, with my heart, with my body, and with all the syllables of my soul for all the paths and pages of my life.

Before I pronounce you married partners, there is one last thing. Your wedding day is one that flies. It’s a day filled with travel, friends, food, schedules and music. Many people remember how fleeting their own wedding day was. So I want you to take a few seconds to look into each others’ eyes. Think about the happiness that you are feeling in this beautiful place, in this moment.

Really let that feeling register in your heart and your mind. Now, I want you to think about your life together in twenty  thirty forty years. Where are you? What are you doing? We all know that your visions of the future are not identical, but always complimentary.

John Lennon once said, “a dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream you dream together, THAT is reality.”

That new reality starts Now.

By the power vested in me by the State of Vermont I now pronounce you husband and wife.

Please join us in the receiving line….


Jun 14
Cutting the wedding cake late in the day. A few more wedding photos here.

Cutting the wedding cake late in the day. A few more wedding photos here.


second ceremony - text

(copied straight from my notes)

2:45 – GET DAVE AND MARCIE TO TELL PEOPLE TO SIT DOWN

3:00: Samantha Becker and Steven Augustus would like to thank you all for being here with them today, and for  supporting them through everything that it has taken to make this day a reality. Thanks everyone from coming from such distances and everyone who helped decorate this home and themselves for this special day. It’s a pleasure to have you here to celebrate with them in their home.

We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of these two people, Samantha & Steve, who stand before you, their beloved friends, family and neighbors in trust and love, with hope and wishes.

They ask us all to be present with them and to rejoice in their companionship and their love.

A formality but also a foundation. A legality but also a labor of love. A partnership but also a pair-bonding. Even for two people who have shared their lives as long and as deeply as Steve and Samantha have, marriage is in some ways the next step and in many ways the natural extention of their lives together, lives already shared with Davin, Theo, and Abby, the journey they have already been on.

On this day of your marriage, you stand within the charmed circle of your great love and the greater circle of those who love you.

  • Reading 1  - Buffy from Corinthians
  • Reading 2 – Kari from Shakespeare

Samantha to Steve – repeat after me

I Samantha take thee Steve to be my husband, my lover, my madman, my poet, my bear.
For better or for worse
for richer or poorer
in sickness and in health
in disagreement and harmony
for all the days of my life.

Steve to Samantha – repeat after me

I Steve take you Samantha to be my spouse in our civil marriage
to have and to hold from this day on
for better, for worse
for richer, for poorer
to love and to cherish forever
or all the days of my life.

Will you Samantha have Steve to be united as one in your civil marriage?

Will you Steve have Samantha to be united as one in your civil marriage?

Steve will you now place the ring on Samantha’s finger and repeat after me please?
I give you this ring as a symbol of my love. I choose you.

Samantha will you now place the ring on Steve’s finger and repeat after me please?
I give you this ring as a symbol of my love. I choose you.

By the authority vested in me by the voters of Randolph & the state of Vermont, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may now  celebrate with your first kiss as husband and wife. Congratulations.

Please join Frank/Lee, Marcy/Keith, Dwight/Arlene and Danny/Kari and Anne in the receiving line.


Aug 13

first ceremony - text

Thank you all for coming…. We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of these two people, Rich & Rachel, who stand before you in love, in trust, in joy and in hope. They ask us to be present with them and to rejoice in their companionship and their love.

Love is not meant to be the possession of two people alone. It serves as a source of common energy, as a form in which you find the strength to live your lives with courage. It’s the original perpetual motion machine once you set it going. Its energy sustains families, communities and ultimately the world. It’s a great thing you’ve got here. From this day onward, you will come closer together than ever before; you will carry on loving one another in sickness and health, for better and for worse, when you’re close and when you’re far away.

Your love also gives you the strength to stand apart, to seek out your unique destinies, to make your special contributions to the world. It is a thing which is always part of us… and more than us. On this day of your marriage, you stand within the charmed circle of your great love and the greater circle of those who love you.

  • Reading 1 Rich Fairbanks (personal recollection)
  • Reading 2 Rachel Westbook (Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali)
  • Reading 3 Seth Westbrook (excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières)
  • Reading 4 Jessamyn West (Union by Robert Fulghum)

Please repeat these vows after me

I, _____________, take you, ______________, to be my wife/husband.

I give you my hand and my heart.

I pledge to share my life openly with you and to speak loving truth to you.

I promise to respect and honor you, care for you in tenderness, support you with patience and love, and walk with you through all the seasons of our lives.

Will you Rich Fairbanks have Rachel Westbrook to be united as one in your civil marriage?

Will you Rachel Westbrook have Rich Fairbanks to be united as one in your civil marriage?

[to guests/friends/family] Do you promise to support Rich & Rachel, to give them the wisdom of your counsel, the loyalty of your heart, the fairness of your mind and the walking of their dogs?

By the authority vested in me by the voters of Randolph & the state of Vermont, I pronounce you husband and wife. Congratulations.


First wedding! It went well! More photos from the wedding day.

Rich & Rachel 10aug13

First wedding! It went well! More photos from the wedding day.

Rich & Rachel 10aug13


Mar 6

A big giant day full of democracy here in Randolph Vermont. I spent the morning at Town Meeting then scooted to the gym and came back in time to staff the polls for a few hours and then counted votes for an hour, making sure the numbers matched and that all the write-ins were tabulated. A good time. Next time I’ll bring snacks. (and yeah I guess that’s the only sweater I ever wear, huh?) My other photos from Town Meeting are here.


Feb 1

voting, now and then

The JP job has a lot more to do with voting than marrying. That is, if you don’t want to, you don’t really have to marry anyone, but part of the gig is checking voter registrations, being present at the polls, delivering ballots to people who can’t be at the polls, and counting write-in votes.

I’ve been digging through the pile of paperwork I got at the Board of Civil Authority meeting (a board I was not on when I went, but I am on now) and it’s mostly straightforward stuff. I’m surprised, as always, just how much of this stuff really is codified and written down. Only sort of related, I found this book on Open Library that talks about how soldiers voted when they were off fighting the Civil War. Sort of interesting if you’re nerdy about this sort of thing. If you, too, are interested check out Voting in the Field, a forgotten chapter of the Civil War.


It’s official!

Since it is now February I am now a Justice of the Peace. Feels mostly the same so far. I’ve amended the header text on this blog. I can now marry anyone who wants to be married in the State of Vermont. From the Board of Civil Authority meeting last night it appears that the majority of my time will be spent counting write-in ballots after Town Meeting next month.


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