Member Spotlight: Melissa Falen
“little piece of heaven”
Associate professor, sports coach, apprentice electrician, bar-tender, litigant. These are all titles worn by member Melissa Falen.
Melissa lives in Baltimore, MD as associate professor at Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore. Prior to this she lived in Fairfield, Philadelphia and grew up in the DC burbs and the San Francisco bay area. For roughly 30 years, until recently hanging up her whistle, Melissa coached collegiate sports – primarily lacrosse and field hockey.
There are some things most people don’t know about Melissa and would probably never suspect. In the early 1980s she filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the school district where she was a part-time coach, and realizing she was not going to get a full-time teaching job afterward, Melissa became a proud member of Local IBEW 654, the electrician’s union. She was an apprentice electrician for about two years, before leaving to return to coaching and teaching. Melissa can wire a ceiling fan or put in an outlet. Melissa also bar-tended in a couple of women’s bars in Philadelphia back in the day: Sneakers and Mamzelle’s. If anyone was there in the early to mid-80’s, she may have served you!
Melissa first “discovered” P’town around 1987 or so while a graduate assistant and coach at Fairfield University. Prior to coming to Connecticut for graduate school she had not heard of Provincetown or been to Cape Cod. How is that possible? Where she lived, friends went to the beaches in Maryland and Delaware. Since the late 1980s Melissa had been coming to town, usually for Carnival, every summer for a week. The first summer she missed in 20 years was in 2008 -- that was a rough year for Melissa; a year of profound loss.
Melissa returned to town for a week in March of 2009. Town was empty, not much was open, it was cold and she was feeling very alone and sad. While walking the streets one chilly but very sunny and beautiful day and chatting with a few locals, Melissa realized that for all her sadness, she felt better just being in town. So she made the decision to sell the home her parents left her and use those funds to buy a “little piece of heaven” that would give her the chance to come to Provincetown during all seasons and see what it might be like to be here all the time.
On New Year’s Day, for six years running now, Melissa hikes the dunes out from Snail Road. When in town she roams the streets every visit, hikes the trails, kayaks, visits galleries, checks out what’s at PAAM, gets a meal at Fanazzi’s or Napi’s, maybe catches a movie at Whaler’s Wharf, and importantly, catches up with friends who are in town. Melissa came to P’town initially for the “gayness,” and acceptance, and all the usual “fun” of being a summer guest. As it turns out, what she truly loves the most is the incredible light and nature. Melissa has stayed in a dune shack and felt at peace and at home.
To her full-time neighbors, Melissa says “You may not know me, yet I love this town and I hope to be a permanent member of the town, but I just can’t do it financially yet. I so admire those who fell in love with the town and took that leap of faith to change their lives and find a way to follow their dreams. There are many like this in town and I have been very blessed to find some wonderful friendships with local people.”
Melissa joined the PPRTA because she is a part-time resident taxpayer so it seemed like a good idea to join to meet people who she might not otherwise meet since we are not all in town at the same time. We also have common interests. Before joining PPRTA, Melissa was not well-informed in general about the issues and challenges the town faces. Since she wants to eventually live in town full-time, joining this organization was a way to learn more about the things that concern all of us who love Provincetown, and in particular, those things which may impact part-time residents the most.
Melissa would like to see the PPRTA continue to pursue getting a voice, she notes: “There is such a breadth and depth of various talents and expertise in our membership, it could only benefit the town for those voices to be heard and that experience tapped into.” As part-time residents provide most (about 85%) of the residential property tax, she thinks we should have some input into how the monies are spent.