Jessica Latshaw

musician. writer. dancer.

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We cannot be kind enough. We cannot love enough. We cannot have too much hope.

We can, however, share too much.

I am sure I do it, from time to time. Certainly more than my boyfriend, who is so very wonderfully intentional about the words he says and who hears them. Me, I will be in the park for two seconds, and in the space it takes to hold a conversation, I will tell you where I live, where I used to live, that I went through a very painful time three years ago, and the digits of my debit card pin number.

Okay, just kidding about the pin number. I didn’t reveal that in the park, it was the hardware store. I was buying something awesome–probably a paint brush; Oh, how I LOVE a good paint brush!–and the clerk said, “Pin number.” Just like that; like I should state it, so I did. I spit out two numbers, when, horrified, the clerk stopped me and showed me where to type it in.

You know, secretly. 

Oh, right. That’s what you humans do here on earth. I’ll just go back to my planet where we trust everyone for no good reason and then use our money to clean up after our dogs because who cares about money, anyway?! AND HERE’S MY PIN NUMBER, EVERYONE!

Sometimes I experience what Dr. Brene Brown refers to as a “vulnerability hangover.” I wake up in the morning and groggily remember that I shared a lot with a certain somebody and maybe I shouldn’t have. OR that I wrote on my blog about all my pain. Again. Once, I came across someone in the mall, and, under the glare of florescent lights and SALE SALE SALE! signs, I was asked how it is I can share so much in a public forum.

“It helps,” I said, slowly. “It helps my heart to get out my feelings. To write them down. They get smaller that way; more manageable and less terrifying.”

She nodded non-committedly and went to go spend $9.99 on a top, cause SALE SALE SALE!

I like to communicate. I love it, actually. Writing a blog feels like my letter to the world, a la Emily Dickinson. Also, words happen to be one of my favorite mediums of expression. I love the challenge of bending and shaping a sentence until it says exactly what I mean. And don’t get me started on punctuation. A semi-colon has always had the same effect on me as a good romance novel: I get feeling all dreamy and weak in the knees.

At the risk of sounding both pretentious and pious, let me tell you about the time I visited the projects in Philly. A group of us made egg sandwiches and handed them out, but that’s not the point of the story.  There was a young man there with a beautiful voice. He sang, and if chocolate had a sound, it would be something like his voice on that cold afternoon in Philadelphia–smooth and sweet and like you just wanted more and more.

“I’m a coke addict,” he said, “I get clean and then I relapse, but I never stop singing.”

He sang a beautiful song and the sound transformed where he was, where we all were.

Sometimes, we make ugly places beautiful with the tools that we have, even if they don’t look like much to those who are smarter and judge-ier than us. Sometimes we are coke addicts singing Amazing Grace. Sometimes we are single moms buying a can of paint with money we don’t have so our kids can have a fun, bright room just like their friends do. Sometimes we are a woman who was left by someone she loved very much and we write down words every night; we spell out our pain and connect the thoughts with semi-colons, because as we do, we forget the ghetto we live in. We are free for a few precious moments. We are Atlas, but someone has finally lifted the whole earth off our shoulders and even our moms hardly recognize us because of the hope that has transformed our features.

All that said, I still try not to share too much.

There are stories I swallow whole. Like a snake, at times I feel tired and bulky with the weight of these unspoken stories, but they shouldn’t be shared. Not here, not now.

And now there is TJ. He is not exactly like me (thank GOD). He is street smart. He’d never give his pin number to a clerk at a hardware store and he doesn’t usually get into long conversations about EVERYTHING IN LIFE with the person next to him at the T stop. And I admire that.

And also: it is not just me anymore. This should be a song sung in a thousand harmonies, for the power of that sentence–It is not just me anymore–is enough to make a girl believe. In the goodness of a Creator with a plan that I couldn’t see a while back. And in the fact that every last one of us need only to keep walking, because the scenery changes and, eventually, we are okay.

We are better than okay, actually. And then we realize that our scars are stories we wouldn’t trade, not even for all the freely-given pin numbers in every last hardware store in the world.

But then there is the issue of legal matters.

Binding in the court of law and all that stuff.

Like salaries that one can look up online. Not that I do this, but a client of mine just flat out told me her salary as a federal prosecutor because, as she said, “You could just as easily look it up online, anyway. It’s a matter of public record.”

And legal matters are good and important and help keep dangerous people behind bars and also help give married people rights.

And if you think that sentence was boring, you are right. I only ask that you focus on two words in it, though, if that helps:


And though this is a story that is hair trigger private–for what can be more personal than giving your heart away?–it is also a matter of public knowledge.

Cause, um, TJ asked me to marry him.

It’s not just me, anymore.

Not that it ever was, really, but not coming home to a stranger is a lovely thing.

He gave me his grandmother’s ring and asked me to be his wife and I said yes.


This is private, friends, so private–yes!–but it’s (eventually) legal and also really good news.

So I am happy to share it.

And if I get a vulnerability hangover, I only need remember that it will, in time, be a matter of public record, anyway.

A record that I will be very, very proud of.



  1. Michael September 9, 2013


  2. Steph September 9, 2013

    Wow! And yay! And wow. And yay! Yippee! Woohoo! And yay! Wow. Congratulations! Okay I’ll stop now. (Wow!). Uh, sorry. Ahem.

    Steph (yay!)

  3. Elizabeth September 9, 2013

    Been listening to TJ for years and because of him, started listening to your music. I’m very happy TJ has found his partner and life long companion. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness and many blessings!! Congrats on the engagement!!!

  4. Robert September 9, 2013

    That’s awesome! Gongrats Jess and TJ. After all you’ve been through, this is such great news. Jessica, I only know some of your story(i’ll keep that pin # secret, yes it’s safe with me) but this is the perfect next chapter in your life(Your Lives, I guess I should say) and I know it will play out well. So very happy for you both 🙂 I just hope I
    either get an invite, or get hired as a caterer 😛

    • robert September 9, 2013

      gongrats? what is wrong with me?

  5. Meghann September 9, 2013

    Yay! I’m so happy for you!

  6. Liezl September 9, 2013

    Congratulations and best wishes to you and TJ and Luna!! You guys are so adorable!!

  7. Anna K September 9, 2013

    Amazing news, Jess! I’m so glad you have found someone deserving of your wonderfulness. I can’t wait to meet him. Much love to you!

  8. Mandy September 9, 2013

    I love you and I love TJ too by association with you. And it always drives me crazy when people give the guy a “don’t hurt her” threat, because do we really think that there are that many people in the world who get into relationships for the sole purpose of hurting somebody? Maybe there are but I don’t want to know about it, because I’m right with you on the “trust everybody with our PIN numbers!” front. So I will say this instead: marriage, like any relationship, includes hurt along with a lot of other wonderful things, so when hurt comes along, turn it into something that grows both of you and brings you closer and stronger.

    Congratulations, love.

  9. Peaj September 9, 2013

    Congratulations, dear one. I pray for every joy and success for you.

    But golly, you did make us work for that happy ending. Did you hope to deter the vulgar and the profane by making them walk that gauntlet of words before they could spy your joyful news?

    Probably not a bad idea, actually. 😉

  10. Heather Ferrari September 9, 2013

    Heart is bursting for you, my friend!!!! Sending out so much love to you! Congratulations!!!!

  11. Sandra Partially Anonymous September 10, 2013

    SO very happy.

  12. Mom September 10, 2013

    You know I’m so happy for you both! Who doesn’t love happy endings?

  13. Rachel C. September 10, 2013

    Jess! I’m sooooooo happy for you! Congratulations! Love you!

  14. Kathie K. September 10, 2013

    Jess, I love this post and the wonderful news it contains! Congratulations! God bless you and TJ and the life you will build together. I am so happy for you. Love and blessings to you both.

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