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(Image: Alexandra Celia / Seattle Refined)
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Documenting Love: Laura & RJ's Story

Photographer/blogger/genius Alexandra Celia has devoted her career to documenting love in its purest and most original form - which you'll see in her photos. Every now and then she will share her work with couples: their love story, their commitment, their passion....and of course, their photos. Think of her as our Love Guru. She loves love, and is here to share it with the rest of us. Next up, the story of Laura & RJ's - living and loving life as an married couple in Seattle.

Laura
RJ and I first met in junior high. I remember always thinking he was cute, sweet, and VERY shy! We spent our formative years in the same friend group slowly getting to know each other. He “dated” a friend of mine in the 7th grade. In high-school, we shared the same homeroom where we’d play games on the computer in the back of the class. He visited a few times while I was away at college. We were even each other’s New Year’s Eve kiss one year.

But it wasn’t until I returned home after graduation, that we grew closer. We spent nearly every weekend together with our friends at the local bars laughing, dancing, and ordering delicious hot dogs from the street vendor at 2 a.m.. Our love story began with a kiss on the dance floor of a divey, dark, sticky bar in downtown Kirkland. And the rest was, as they say, history. We were inseparable for the next many days, staying up late talking for hours. We both knew early on that we would spend the rest of our lives together.

RJ
We met in junior high but wouldn't start dating until many years later. After she moved back home from college she lived in an apartment close to downtown so my friends and I spent most weekends over there. I started to get to know her better this way but having always been friends, I don't think either of us paid much attention to a growing closeness. One night while out with the support of some liquid courage, we kissed and my feelings for her became instantly obvious. I remember worrying in the days following, whether she had similar feelings but it didn't take us long to figure things out and become inseparable.


Laura
I have always been proud of how family oriented RJ is. It's evident by his close relationships with his parents and his devotion to me and our four-legged child. I beam every time he fantasizes about the kitchen he'd like us to have someday, or the number of dogs we'll adopt, or comes up with a name he likes for our future children. He will, without a doubt, be the most wonderful father someday.

RJ
Laura takes pride in everything she does. She sets a high bar for herself and never falls short. I'm so proud of the woman she is because of her intense desire to be great for herself and for others. Whether it's tackling a project at work, home, or taking care of our pup, Laura gives her all. For example, for many years Laura's favorite food was steak. We cooked steak and veggies at least a couple times a week. So when she told me in the spring of 2018 that she was going to reduce her meat intake by cutting out beef and pork, I honestly had no idea how she'd be able to do it. I, of course, should have never doubted her. She hasn't had a bite of either since.


Laura
I knew I cared for him immediately! Well okay, 10 years had passed since first meeting but I knew I cared for RJ immediately after that night we kissed on the dance floor of that dingy bar.

RJ
I knew how much I cared for Laura in those few days after we kissed at the bar. I was working late shifts at the time so I'd get off work around 10:30pm and head straight to her apartment. We'd stay up ridiculously late talking, not able to pull ourselves away and call it a night. I was in love.

Laura
RJ is tall, dark and handsome with the most gorgeous hazel green eyes! Aside from his stunning good looks, I am also incredibly attracted to his sense of humor. RJ makes me laugh everyday and I am so grateful for it.

RJ
Laura is a confident, independent woman which I find incredibly attractive. She is also hilariously silly and makes me laugh all the time. Not to mention, she is beautiful and has amazing eyes.

Laura
I am very proud of the attention and effort RJ and I have put into becoming better communicators in our relationship. We've learned a lot over the years and are constantly practicing and trying to improve but I attribute our ability to get through anything because of this foundation we've laid. We try to address things quickly, never letting it fester for too long. We speak to each other respectfully, trying to never say things we don't mean. And we remind ourselves that disagreements aren't inherently arguments, just opportunities for conversation.

RJ
Laura and I have each faced a few family health challenges in the last couple of years which have been difficult to deal with. I appreciate how we've showed up for each other during those tough times. We give each other the time and space to sit with our feelings while also offering simple distractions for a sense of normalcy like dinners out or running errands together.


Laura
I'm naturally a wound up ball of stress who manages five to-do lists at all times (I'm working on it). But I appreciate all the small ways RJ tries to bring balance to my days. He reminds me to change into comfy clothes when I get home, he'll grab me a La Croix or pour me a glass of wine, he'll do the dishes, cook, and play with the dog so I can fit the gym in after work. He is also great at pulling me away from things that can wait for another day. I just appreciate that he is in-tune with me in this way and sprinkles my days with these thoughtful reminders to take a timeout, relax and enjoy.

RJ
Laura jokes she knows me better than I know myself and it's probably true. She gently reminds me not to pour too much hot sauce on tacos because I do that a lot, she knows when to remind me about something I've surely forgotten, and she just generally keeps me organized and moving. These are just a few examples of the many ways she makes my life easier and less stressful.

Laura
We have a few rituals that I adore. We love to cook so we enjoy sharing recipes with each other, watching any and all food shows, and prepping a giant meal together in our tiny, ill-equipped kitchen. We also enjoy taking the pup on walks to a local coffee shop. And Sundays! We keep Sundays pretty protected, free of plans which I love because it's time we can count on spending together, relaxing on the sofa with our dog before a new week begins.

RJ
We make sure to always have an adventure on the books. We enjoy a couple camping trips a year where we hook up our pop-up trailer, load up the dog and get out of the city for a few days with friends and family. I enjoy being unplugged, walking on the beach, and playing games. It's a great way to recharge as a family.


Laura
My mom shared something once many years ago that stuck with me and helped me evaluate my relationships more clearly. She said that in any partnership, the day-to-day needs to be easy. It was the ease of it all straight from the beginning which set our relationship apart from others I’d had in the past. Our lives just sort of folded into each other’s. There was no awkwardness, we never walked on eggshells around one another, or were anything but ourselves. It was just plain easy and thus, felt so right.

RJ
I've always been a very shy, quiet guy. So I knew our relationship was special when Laura quickly became the only person on the planet I was 100% myself with. She's always made me feel very secure and safe in our relationship. Laura has undoubtedly helped to improve my self-confidence and she pushes me to share more of myself with others.


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