Today is my wife’s 25th birthday.
I never would have thought that the girl I met that cold January day in 2015 carrying the diet coke purse would end up meaning so much to me, or the extent to which I had just embarked on an exhilarating journey that would last me the rest of my life. Helena was sporting a leather jacket covered in pins of different feminist movements the day I met her, and in retrospect, I guess I should have realized how much of a roller coaster knowing her would be.
Helena is a light. She has this certain energy about her, a smile that lights up the room like a photography flash, and everyone takes notice. For those few that don’t, her clamorous voice and resounding laughter are sure to finish the job.
The day I met her was no exception. When I first met her eyes and was flashed that brilliant smile, I knew that I was dealing with an exuberance of energy, warmth, and good will. Even her name, Helena, comes from Greek and means light. If any name was apt, it would be that one.
Knowing Helena has been such a blessing, not only because of how easily her laughter comes or how fun she is to spend time with. Knowing Helena has also been such a blessing because of her mad flurry of ideas, her ambitious drive and endless courage and the challenge that comes from being with someone so different from myself.
Helena was in the acting realm when I met her, and I had just started my master’s in teaching ESL. We were worlds apart, a void that only online dating platforms could have bridged. Because we are so different, times aren’t always easy. Our perspectives on life often clash, as do some of our behaviors and some minor values. But it is because she is so different that I appreciate her so much.
Helena is the type of person who yells at pigeons for being mean to other pigeons. Who pays for a parasail experience while on a ferry without asking the price or the time. Who tries to find parent ducks when she finds ducklings floating down the river alone. She’s the type of person who needs to be sprayed water on her face at noon because she still hasn’t woken up yet, and who will ask you philosophical questions at 3am about what people like about Disney that makes it so popular. She’s the type of person to stick her thumb out and hitchhike in a foreign country just to have an “authentic experience.” She will squeal in delight and when you turn to look at what she’s excited about, you’ll find her hugging a tree or sniffing an unassuming flower along the road. She’s delightful yet exhausting, hilarious and always unexpected. After nearly 5 years together, she still keeps me on my toes.
So when she asked me to marry her on a roller coaster in Disneyworld, how could I not say yes? It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
We lived together for the first time when she was 23, but were married in her 24th year of life, the one that is now transitioning into her 25th today. Living with Helena…isn’t always easy. It means following a trail of clothes from the entryway to the couch as she took them off successively and finding her curled up with a book. It’s finding a sink full of dishes, a plethora of colorful pillows everywhere, and walls covered in ripped out magazine pages that she finds inspiring or post-it notes with weekly business to-dos.
But living with Helena also means laughing constantly, always talking, and always pondering life’s biggest questions.
When she asked me to travel the world, I said yes. And we moved to France to begin an incredible adventure and experience living abroad as expats—even though she didn’t speak a lick of French and would be limited with work opportunities.
In her 24th year of life we experienced the thrill and hardship of spending almost 2 months of our honeymoon in the environment of a developing country. We’ve also travelled to countless countries in Europe, each one with its unique experience.
I witnessed her joy in taking a picture of a spontaneous proposal in from of the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany, of grimacing with disgust after trying my beer in Munich’s Oktoberfest, of melting at the taste of fresh Italian cheese in Bari, and rocking out to Disneyland queue music while we drove through thunderstorms in the heart of Spain. Traveling by itself is an enriching experience, but it wouldn’t nearly be as enriching or spontaneous without Helena.
I consider myself so lucky to be the man who gets to spend the rest of his life with the wonderful Helena Woods, and I love her so very dearly. She has both taught and reminded me the meaning of living life to its fullest ability, one without regrets and filled with bravery and revelry.
So to you, dear Helena, have an incredible Happy Birthday, and I can’t wait to see what more our future holds with all these wonderful things we have already experienced behind us. You are a true light in this world, and I love you very much.
Your Husband Alex
May 17, 2019
2016 - 2019 Helena Woods | Helena Woods Portraiture is located outside New York City in Fairfield County Connecticut and travels worldwide for her clients. Helena Woods is Connecticut’s premier family, children, baby and newborn photographer specializing in modern classic custom family photography with a timeless look that's always in style. As a professional photographer, Helena captures maternity, newborn, baby and family portraits in NYC, Westchester, Trumbull, Easton, Weston, and Westport, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norfolk and all Fairfield County surrounding areas.