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Next up, the story of Ali & Adam - living and loving life as an engaged couple in Portland (Image: Alexandra Celia / Seattle Refined).
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Documenting Love: Ali & Adam's Story

Note from Seattle Refined: We could not be more excited that photographer/blogger/genius Alexandra Celia has joined our team here at Seattle Refined. She 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 Ali & Adam - living and loving life as an engaged couple in Portland.

Ali
We met online, and I later found out that we were both pretty tentative about the process of online dating. I now know that if we hadn’t met online, our paths may have never crossed, so I feel incredibly grateful for the process that brought us together. I had been given advice to be very specific about the qualities I was seeking in a partner – for me, an ideal partner would be kind, empathic, honest, grounded, humble, silly, motivated and self-aware. Adam’s first message confidently declared that he felt he had all the qualities I was seeking. I was suspicious, but intrigued, and we arranged our first meeting in SE Portland. The first thing I noticed when opening the door was Adam’s eyes, which were sparkling in the candlelight, meeting mine, and the sweet generosity of his smile. We talked easily for hours, and Adam had many questions to ask. I greatly appreciated his thoughtfulness and curiosity. I was also really impressed when I discovered he’d read books by both Howard Zinn and Toni Morrison, two authors that have changed my life. As we were parting, Adam walked me to my car, and it was honesty and vulnerability in these moments that really solidified my interest in him. He wanted to let me know what a wonderful time he had, but also didn’t want me to feel pressured at all to see him again – he didn’t try and play it cool, and be aloof, he was excited about getting to know me and was able to genuinely show this. His approach felt so incredibly honest, refreshing and kind. I was very excited to make a plan to see him again.

Adam
We met in a very modern manner - online dating. Her profile was quite unlike the others, with detailed descriptions of who she was and who she was looking to meet, and photos demonstrating her whimsy (oh, and stunning beauty). I immediately began to craft a message to her. It was clear that “hey, how are you doing” simply wouldn’t be well-received by Ali. After much time and deliberation, I sent to her what must have been the right note, because she responded and we had a brief back and forth through the dating site. We quickly reached the point where we abandoned the dating app and began to text, and soon thereafter were prepared to meet for a date. I pondered various romantic restaurant options, but Ali (who I now know to be a “planner”) took the lead and proposed meeting at Circa 33. I arrived well before the date, moving tables several times to find the spot most conducive to a deep conversation. I watched the front door intently awaiting her entrance. Then she was there. I remember nothing of what she was wearing, how she had done her hair, etc.; I remember only her warm smile and beautiful eyes. My nerves were racing but I was quickly put at ease by her calmness. We talked for a couple hours, but it felt like only a fraction of that, and I knew rather early in the conversation that I definitely wanted to spend more time with Ali, but had no idea if she felt the same way.

Ali
There are so many things Adam does that make me proud, but I’d say it’s who he is that makes me most proud. His honesty and integrity are unwavering. He is thoughtful, generous and kind. He is so fiercely loyal and devoted in his love for me, and for his children. He is an incredible dad, and can easily access his big kid side, which makes animals and kids love him. He’s silly and smart, and loves dad jokes more than anyone else on the planet. He cares about social justice, and the world around him. He is motivated in both his words and actions to create change in the world.

Adam
I take personal pride in being able to tell anyone willing to listen about the amazing person that allowed me to be her husband. About the genuine love she feels for my children. About how she brings me great happiness. About her tireless dedication to improving the lives of everyone around her - her family, her friends, and her therapy clients. It’s also pretty cool telling all my high school buddies about the total babe I get to call my wife.

Ali
I knew that I cared for Adam and wanted to be with him pretty early on. On our third date, I remember asking him the hard questions about the life he envisioned, the relationship he was hoping for, the partner he knew he could be, and the partner he was seeking. Lucky for me, I learned that we were not only compatible in our current lives, but I felt hopeful that our visions of the future would support our individual growth, and our growth together as partners. I felt like I’d met my match. And I have discovered over and over again, that he is even more than I was hoping for.

Adam
The moment my feelings for Ali shifted from pure intrigue (at what was going on inside her beautiful mind) and (significant) physical attraction to something much deeper, perhaps even love, came quite early in our relationship. It was our third date and Ali agreed to join me for Zoo Lights. The traffic just to park was moving at a glacial pace, and the line to buy tickets was somehow even slower. It was quite cold as we stood in that line. I was certain the date was quickly turning into a fabulous disaster. As we waited for tickets, some young kids kept bumping into Ali. Then, to top it all off, none of the flippin’ animals were out, at a ZOO. She wasn’t frustrated by the traffic, the line, the giggling, bumping kids, or even the lack of animals. And this patience took away my frustration. I knew then that I could enjoy any setting by Ali’s side.

Ali
What sets my relationship with Adam apart is our ability to grow together through both the beauty and tragedy of life — he is the person I want to share happy times, and sad times, and mundane times, and joyful times with. It feels like we are fundamentally compatible in the most important and meaningful ways, and like we are always a team. I have always felt that we’re equally invested in our partnership and willing to do the work to reflect that, and I’ve never questioned us both genuinely wanting and desiring to share our lives together. We are also very different, and in those areas we have been able to challenge one another, to support one another’s growth in empathy, patience and compromise, and to expose one another to new ideas and interests.

Adam
I cherish every moment I get to spend with Ali, even the mundane and difficult moments, because she truly is my best friend.

Ali
I’m attracted to how comfortable Adam is in his own skin, his ability to completely be himself, and for this to be defined by his own values, beliefs and integrity. This is reflected in his commitment to stand up for what he feels is right, just and honorable, and this is embodied in his daily actions and the work he does. He also has a genuine belief in/fear of ghosts, which I find adorable in all of his otherwise science-based views. Adam is thoughtful and opinionated and seeks knowledge, and is open to new ideas and ways of thinking. He is willing to make anything a debate, which is sometimes exasperating, but mostly keeps things interesting and lively. I’m also attracted to his rugged good looks, his sweet smile, his crystal blue eyes, and that he always smells so good.

Adam
What most attracts me to Ali - which I know is a cliche but I can think of no other way to say it - is her inner beauty. She is so kind, thoughtful, and caring to all those fortunate enough to be part of her life, and I am grateful to be among that group.

Ali
Adam and I handle difficult situations by finding the balance between processing on our own, and processing together. Adam and I process information differently – I pretty quickly know how I feel, and seek compromise and resolution. Adam needs time to process on his own, and to really analyze his emotions before he’s ready for resolution. We’ve learned through trial and error to set a specific time for when we’ll discuss something that one or both of us finds challenging – this honors my need for timely processing and resolution, and his need for time and space. We also wholeheartedly believe in therapy (individual and couples), to support our continued growth as individuals, and our growth as a couple. For me, a partner who is willing to go to therapy, to do the hard work, to be self-reflective and vulnerable and willing, is incredibly attractive.

Adam
The hardest part of difficult situations isn’t the source of the conflict, it’s the manner in which we resolve the conflict. As a lawyer, it’s my job to win arguments. But I’ve had to learn that conflicts with Ali are not the type to be won or lost, and her abundant patience has allowed me to reach that point.

Ali
Adam and I find shared meaning in our relationship through conversations, debates, games, hikes, house projects, travel, cooking, discussing world events, etc. We also find shared meaning in blending our families, and in the creation of our own family system. It’s an honor to share my life with Adam’s son and daughter, they add so much to our lives, and to our relationship. My family has also wholeheartedly and lovingly embraced Adam, and my mom now refers to him as the “#1 Son-In-Law”. We feel incredibly grateful to be able to share our love, and feel so surrounded by love.

Adam
We work hard to find new activities that we each enjoy doing together, and devoting our free time to the things we already enjoy together; hiking at Forest Park, the coast, and in the gorge, snowshoeing at Mt. Hood, darts in the garage, and ping pong in the basement.

Ali
The most meaningful ritual we share is exploring the NW, and going on hikes together. Adam even has me in appropriate hiking shoes, Gore-Tex, wool socks and rain jackets. I have fallen even more in love with the NW since meeting Adam, and feel so lucky to share this exploration with him. Adam is also a brunch connoisseur, and we have brunch out on Saturday or Sunday every weekend. He’s on a mission to find the best cinnamon roll in Portland, and I love watching his genuine excitement for this ritual, and for coffee, sausage & pancakes.

Adam
We aren’t too ritualistic. We will have one nice breakfast out each weekend or the occasional brisk hike up Rocky Butte the other weekend morning. The only real ritual is that we strive to cherish our time together after work during the week and on the weekends.

Ali
The few, small things Adam does on a daily basis that make my day easier and more enjoyable are how playful and silly he is. He always has a joke he’s been thinking of all day, and can’t wait to tell me when we get home from work. He can make anything a game, or competition, and is growing in being gracious when defeated (love you, Adam!). He remembers things happening in my day, and texts or calls me to check in. Adam makes delicious meals and gives great massages. Early on, I had also mentioned that I’d always wanted a record player in the living room, and over the past year he’s slowly found all the perfect equipment to set this up for us — the perfect speakers, record player and location for optimal sound — and I get excited every time I put a record on, and feel reminded of his thoughtfulness and love.

Adam
She reminds me daily that I’m loved, and I know that when we finish our work days, she’ll be excited to see me and spend the evening together.

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