I'm an American expat, writer. photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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HELENAW

Three years ago, a 20 year old girl was running late. Running late for her first date with a newly transplanted New Yorker and her last first date she’d ever go on.

Rushing from an acting class in Midtown, I raced off the subway and dashed across avenues, my long blonde hair messy from the cold wind of January. My beat up black Converse high tops were barely keeping my toes warm, and my diet coke plastic purse swinging from my shoulder as I paced myself downtown towards the lower east side.

I was hopeful about this one. I had been dating on the app, OkCupid for 5 months, but I was swearing off dating for good, preparing to close my account indefinitely, after the slew of mediocre guys that didn’t make me excited to spend time with them and the heartbreakers who weren’t interested in a committed relationship. My standards were high, but I knew what I deserved. I wouldn’t choose to waste my precious time with anyone who wasn’t the best fit for me. So here it was: earthlovinspirit had her final first date with wanderer_delavi 

Upon walking into A Spice Lane – a tiny, and empty, Indian restaurant – I noticed a shy, but put together 25 old year Alex stand up nervously to greet me. He had glasses on, which made him look a tad bit more nerdy than his handsome profile picture, but I shrugged it off and sat down, pulling off my black leather jacket with its many colorful pins saying “proud feminist” and “tree-hugger” clacking together. Alex seemed excited to meet me, and he ordered us a plate of samosas to nibble on while we glanced over the menu.

Before meeting Alex in person, our long OkCupid messages were filled with references from our favorite black and white movie musicals, our mutual love for travel and different cultures, and merciless teasing. And our conversation in person was no different. We were able to hold a long conversation, playful teasing and sarcasm sprinkled over our more serious discussions. Witty banter was easefully played back and forth and the chemistry naturally flowed. After dinner, we strolled over – in the freezing cold New York City streets – to The Strand bookstore, and I introduced Alex to one of my favorite sections in the shop: the astrology section. I showed him his personality profile in my Bible: The Secret Language of Birthdays and he taught me a few fun facts about his hero, Teddy Roosevelt. We both quickly learned we had a mutual love for intellectual conversation, light-hearted fun, and learning. But when we went separate ways at the Union Square subway station, and he brought up going to a classical musical house party in the coming week, my gut feeling was to forget about him and politely decline. Although I enjoyed our conversations, I didn’t feel a magical, powerful fire of a spark. A spark I had been looking for in someone but had not experienced often.

I said yes to the following date without thinking and moved on.

When I received a text form him the next day, I was typing out “I had such a fun time! But I just don’t think we’re a good match…” when I had this sudden pang in my gut, that little nudge I get from my intuition when it’s hoping to make me take notice of something. See him again, my intuition silently urged. It was the same feeling I had when I swiped across his picture on OkCupid and my intuition said I have to meet this guy. For the next 5 dates, we had insane chemistry, both of us acting comfortable like we had been best friends for years and the sparks began growing day by day until a fire by date 6.

The Take Away

I had met so many wonderful, nice guys that I could have ended up with, but at the time, I was ruling out anyone who wasn’t giving me fiery passion right off the bat. If I didn’t have that feeling, I never saw them again. I cut out the interesting guys immediately after the first date because they didn’t meet my hopeful romantic expectations of sweeping me off my feet and promising me the world. What this entire experience three years ago taught me was that passion takes time. Love grows. It may take 6 dates, or it may take years of being “just friends”. If you’re lucky, it may be immediate. But the ones who are really lucky, are the ones who patiently wait it out. Who wait for that tinderwood to become tiny sparks. And to ultimately catch fire. And then eventually to watch that fire calm down and become a more steady flame. Alex and my relationship after three years together has had its ups and downs. We’ve gone through conflicts, we almost broke up – once – and we’ve lived together in a small town where we knew no one but each other. And although that flame is still passionately lit, it’s now steady, stable, and we both know it it’s not going to blow out like early, passionate love often does. As Aziz Ansari writes in his book Modern Romance, the fiery passionate love has turned to a comfortable compassionate love. A love that doesn’t quit, but changes with time, steadily. Never ceasing but ever changing.

I knew I had to keep investing my time with Alex. Love requires that investment. Following my intuition during those early dates in the cold winter of 2015 was the best decision I ever made.

Happy 3 years, Mein Schatz.

Photo Credit: Robyn Middleton Photography

3 Years Together: Reflecting On Our First Date

January 6, 2018

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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