A year ago, before he left for Sudan, Ryan went around town spray-painting this stencil he had made. He sprayed a few backwards. He sprayed a few in the dark. He sprayed one outside my house.
I have no idea where he got this idea in his head to praise the beet instead of the beat. I don't know that I've ever even see him eat the root. But I can tell you that I have passed this fading stencil so many days and taken heart in knowing that he exists. It was a reminder: He was here, with me, and will be again.
He came home from Africa and Asia last week. Yesterday he began driving up the West Coast to return to Portland, and I, eager to see him, went outside and took this photo. It's not nearly as bright as it once was, and the fall/winter rains seem to have already started. I won't need the reminder of him -- I'll have the real thing -- but I wanted to keep some memory of this anyway.