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(Image: Alexandra Celia / Seattle Refined).
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Documenting Love: Mikaela & Michael'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 Mikaela & Michael - living and loving life as an engaged couple in Portland.

Mikaela
It was 2010, I was in a junior in high school and Michael was a sophomore. Our best friends, Kristen and Trevor, were dating and they were pushing us together hard. Problem was, we barely knew each other, I thought he looked like a big-headed baby and to top it off, he was a grade younger, which bothered me. October came around and Halloween was near, our friends planned a couples group date to a haunted house. There was four couples and we all squished into a Ford Explorer and headed on our way. I was skeptical about him, he was goofy and young and I thought I was too cool. The entire time through the haunted house, he yelled and screamed like a small child and I had decided it was a no from me.

We were dropped off at my house with one of the other couples. We stayed outside for a couple minutes awkwardly conversing while our friends said their goodbyes. When he left, I leaned in to hug him and he kissed me. I was so mortified I turned so he couldn’t see my face and ran into my house crying because I felt so bad that I wasn’t into him. But of course, as he always does, he eventually won me over, him and that annoyingly charming smile.

Michael
We met in high school through mutual friends. However, on our first date we went to a haunted house with a group of friends and I just remember she was holding my hand the entire time we were there. So at that point I totally thought she was into me. At the end of the date when I was leaving her house I just went in for it and kissed her, she just backed up and didn’t say anything and walked away. Apparently she ran into her house crying.

Mikaela
Michael owns his own company. Everything he has, he built for himself, he has worked from the very bottom. He’s the definition of the saying “if there’s a will, there’s a way”. He makes things happen, no excuses. Watching him grow his business these past two years has been one of my favorite things. I am so overwhelmingly proud of him and his success. He will be doing a speaking engagement to young entrepreneurs this month, at only 24-years-old. He just opened a second office in downtown Portland. He makes me beam with pride. I just love watching him do what he loves. It’s a joy and an honor to be front row.

Michael
There are a quite a few things about Mikaela that make me proud. First of all, she is just naturally a great mother. The way she has raised Kennedy is unbelievable, hands down the most respectful and well-mannered four year old on the planet. She knows the right lines to draw with the kids without being unreasonable and it’s so impressive watching a younger mother with such wisdom in their parenting. I am half the parent she is. Secondly, I’m proud of how selfless she is with the people in her life. Her first thought for anyone she cares about is, “what can I do for them?” she’s like the modem day Mother Teresa. Not many people are as selfless as she is.

Mikaela
Michael and I dated for a few years in high school and parted ways in college. We went a couple years without speaking but I always wondered where he was, what he was doing, how he was doing. As fate had it, we ran into each other one night at a bar in downtown Portland. Life had changed us both. We were older and more experienced. I had an 18-month old daughter and he was living in Seattle. I remember feeling giddy and enamored and simultaneously at home again. Something I hadn’t felt in a long time. When the night was over, we went our separate ways. Over the next couple months, we would start to talk every week and it turned into every day and then all day every day. By the time I got the courage to go visit him, he lived in Los Angeles. When I got there, I just knew. We had the best weekend. When I woke up on my last day and crawled out of his bed to catch my 5 a.m, flight, my heart hurt. It was really then that I knew.

Michael
Mikaela and I have always been best friends throughout our relationship. We don’t try and impress each other like superficial relationships do. We are real, we are honest about what our flaws are and we love each other because of that. I wouldn’t say there was a specific time that I realized. She was someone I always had a special bond with so once we took the plunge to start dating again, it was a done deal for me.

Mikaela
Our relationship is the safest place I’ve ever known. It fits me like my favorite sweater. It’s seen the deepest losses and the greatest triumphs, spanned across time and cities and a whole lot of life. Through it all, we’ve built the deepest and most fulfilling friendship. He is without a doubt, my very best friend. Everything we have comes after that.

Michael
Our relationship is different from others I’ve had in the past because of the foundation of our friendship. We are, and always have been, friends first. At the end of the day, you want to spend your days with your best friend because all that other stuff fades, and she is definitely my best friend.

Mikaela
Everything about Michael attracts me to him. He’s the kind of man you want your daughter to marry, the strong kind, the gentle kind. The never gives up, always finds a way, knows just what to say and exactly when to say it kind. He’s a leader and a listener, a dreamer and a do-er, a giver, a lover, a lifter, a helper. But my very favorite thing he is, a good father to our kids. He’s never more attractive to me than when he’s playing on floor with Kennedy or rocking Beckham to sleep. Oh, and also, his tattoos too.

Michael
Well she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I joke with her that there’s literally nothing wrong with her face except that it’s shaped like an egg. And now our son’s head is shaped like an egg too. It’s perfect.

Mikaela
Michael is a heavy lifter. He carries all the things, all the time and he never complains. I wish I could say that our ability to handle difficult situations comes from “us” but it doesn’t. He possesses a sense of calm and logic that I do not. He really effortlessly handles the lion share of the hard stuff for us both. When a situation is getting to that trying point, he always reminds me that it’s us against the problem and not us against each other. When I start to see all our challenges that way, they felt so much lighter.

Michael
We walk through the hard stuff together, as best we can. We argue like any two people do but we always try to stop and evaluate what we’re dealing with and how important it is to our lives. If it won’t matter in a year, we try not to waste time on it. If it will, we talk through it and try to have patience with each other. We both have our flaws but we know each other so well that it’s gotten easier over the years to deal with the tough stuff. We know exactly how each other works. When it’s hard to see each other’s perspective, we try really hard at it because ultimately it just brings us closer and makes us stronger.

Mikaela
Either Michael has an incredible ability to read my mind or I’m terrible at hiding my feelings. Regardless, he always takes over right before I’m about to lose my mind. He washes Kennedy’s hair, he gets her that unnecessary “before bed” glass of water, he offers that foot rub just when I need it. Most importantly though, he cuts me slack. Sometimes, it’s the things he doesn’t say, the grace he gives. He lets me make mistakes and say stupid things and he still makes me feel smart and strong and worthy.

Michael
Mikaela runs our entire household. So literally everything she does makes my day easier. The fact we have clean clothes, food in the house, clean dishes, and practically everything else, are all because of her. She takes on so much here because she knows how busy I am with my job and it really does make my life so much easier.

Mikaela
I feel like our whole relationship is a culmination of our little silly rituals. After a long day, before we find something to watch on TV, we play Call of Duty. I’m absolutely horrible but I love it and he lets me play with him even though it splits the screen and even though I most definitely bring the team down. Part of Michael’s job is to make deals in real estate development. We poke fun at it by “making deals” to get what we want out of each other. When Beckham has a dirty diaper, we’ll look at each other and I’ll say “if I change this one, it’s going to cost you $10 a foot”. He makes deals with money per square foot, I make them with minutes per foot rubbed. We always joke that we spend so much time searching Netflix and watching trailers that were tired before we even choose something, that scrolling through Netflix, IS the entertainment. We used to have a tally on our chalkboard of “lives saved” because I never let him kill a spider. On Saturday morning, you can find us at our favorite brunch spot and we love spending Sundays at our favorite wineries. Daily life with him is my favorite.

Michael
Our life is full of little routines. I wake up early before Mikaela and Beckham, I wake up Kennedy and we make breakfast together. Mikaela usually comes downstairs to us playing music and dancing in the kitchen. She acts annoyed by the noise but I know she really loves it. I have a couple jokes that I never stop using, I say them almost daily, my jokes never get old. Instead of watching shows on Netflix we can only get to the previews because we can never quite choose something. When I have a work meeting that goes late, I always bring the girls home Dairy Queen. Really our family is embedded with quirky rituals.

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