The World Elephant

The World Elephant
The World Elephant

When I first came to Portland, I remember being absolutely in love with this mural. It seemed so strange to me, so random and wonderful and amazing, that I used to navigate using it as a reference for the first few months. (In a way, my vision of PDX still has this at the center of town.)

One of my favorite details of this mural was the ledge about 1/5 of the way up from the bottom. (In this image, its subtly noticeable, just above my head.) There were a few different bird’s nests that have been made there, and if you were willing to stop and watch for a few minutes, you would invariably see the birds walking along it, getting read to take off, or feeding it’s young. It was really wonderful to watch, and it always reminded me of the symbiotic birds that live on (and clean) elephants in the wild. Like a weird, symbolic nature scene for the city folk who never got to see the real thing.

I used to talk about taking a picture of this mural all the time, but over the years my technological backwardness (combined with poor planning on my part) never managed to resolve themselves in time. Recently, they began construction or this building, remolding and expanding it, and ultimately cutting a bunch of windows through this mural, making it difficult to look at.

For a while I was totally pissed that I’d missed my chance, that this particular element of the city was now forever locked away in my memory, where it would slowly fade to a nostalgic feeling every so often, one that tugs at the heartstrings but fails to register completely in the conscious mind. It was sort of a bummer, when you get right down to it.

And then I got an e-mail from my roommate, The Ramen City Kid. “Did I ever send this to you?” was all the accompanying message said, and suddenly it hit me: quite a while ago, as we were wandering around town one day, I was talking about wanting to take a picture of it. Again. And in one of the coolest and most meaningful moments of our friendship, he pulled out his camera and said, “Okay. Let’s do it.”

It was so casual and of-the-moment that I didn’t think anything of it when he took the picture. And, since he forgot about it, I forgot about it. And since construction began shortly afterward, the sight of the mural actually being destroyed a little every day began to eliminate it’s presence in my mind, too. I was convinced I would never see it again, even though in the back of my mind I imagined that I could probably track down a picture of it somewhere, someday, somehow.

I just had no idea I would only have to look inside my own house. Thanks man. You are the greatest roommate, ever.

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