The first part I recall was a moment of trying to sort out how to get from one part of the city to another on a grey day (and cold). I was with someone else, or several people; I had a rough idea where I was leading us, but no map and my knowledge of said city was little. We seemed to have headed out from an area of overpasses, of shadows interspersed with light. (In a city, you can know the direction in which you’re headed, but it does not necessarily correlate to the city’s own route of how you may arrive there– buildings blocking the way the crow would fly, and sightlines often terminating within a block or two.)
We stood in our uncertainty near an intersection at which was stopped a contraption unique to the city– a public transport device comprised primarily of a team of bicycles welded together to form a kind of self-powered bus, after the fashion of perhaps three or four militaristic rows (not unlike one might notice in a particularly unwieldy amusement park ride). It presumably worked on the idea of set routes, connected to a running wire overhead that also provided auxiliary power in the case of too few passengers pedaling. It waited at the traffic light, several lanes wide, and at the front right hand side was a small squarish box on wheels that at times must have housed a conductor. We opted to partake of this flotilla on wheels, hoping it would, at the very least, get us closer to our destination.
Later on I was in deeper into the interior the city, far from the outer edges of industry and wide-lane roads. It was in the vicinity of a massive building of a style no longer built– a grand building, long used for events of scale and proportion befitting its architectural tradition. It must have been a circus of some sort in preparation, but at first when I arrived there, it was to meet up –I think– with my parents, and my father’s parents. The day had gone darker than it was before, the wind picked up and the sky was roiling. Even here in the heart of the city, however, were overhead shadow-casters, perhaps an elevated train. It thoroughly disrupted the view of the palatial building from where I stood, and I wondered if its esteemed guests arrived from higher up somehow. Perhaps it was not an elevated train after all, but a secondary level of roadway for the more privileged.
I found them, finally (my parents and grandparents), and I think we were in that area surrounded by the goings-on of the circus by sheer happenstance; on our way to some nearby place for lunch or dinner. But there were crowds– areas roped off and simple chaos all around as the sky and the wind grew fiercer. I had my camera out and was trying to capture slivers of the building’s facade between the grit-stained structures surrounding it. There were angels on high up corners, and details made more dramatic by the stormlight. Then all of a sudden I saw an elephant– a great, heaving grey thing whose misfortune was evident by the red and gold garb that marked it undeniably as a performance beast. He resisted the will of his trainers, sending up shrieks among the crowds here and there as he lunged. I maneuvered to get closer (while also trying to avoid its path) though its path changed moment by moment. It was initially around a corner from where I stood, and only came fully into view a few times. It was a magnificent beast, brought low by circumstance and lashing out each time lightning or thunder struck. I felt sorry for it, and for its handlers as well, all of whom looked miserable. The way the sky looked each time I saw a slice of it between structures reminded me of the time lapse footage of truly dark storms such as one sees in documentaries on television.