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  • Chicago, Illinois and now Roanoke, Virginia. 2012.

    The city that rises out of the prairies is flat all the way through, as if made intentionally, divinely even, for bicycles. I buy mine at the shop near my high-rise apartment, from an earnest bike mechanic with a lazy eye. I fixed this one up myself, he says, and she’s a great road bike. Nice and light, perfect for commuting. I decide to call her Susan, a practical name for a practical bike. I fasten a yellow milk crate to Susan’s back rack, and cover it with fake flowers from the craft store.

    Susan is something of a cure for loneliness. Sometimes I ride up to the dog beach at Montrose Avenue after work to watch Corgis and Labradors and all manner of mutts wrestle tennis balls out of the waves. I take the long way home, gliding past the din that spills from baseball bars and alley hotdog stands.

    I take Susan apart for the trip down South, learn to pop off her front wheel and unscrew the back. I take a certain satisfaction in the black stripes of grease she leaves on my hands. If I nicked myself on her gears we might become blood sisters. But I’m not sure I want it that way. For now, we’ll stay bike and rider.

    My new town has no bike lanes. People whistle, and shout Hey! and Faggot! out of their cars as they speed up to pass me. But there is a hill in my neighborhood that feels almost biblical in its magnitude. Riding down it, I lose the ability to breathe. I feel, for a moment, catastrophically happy. Catastrophically myself.
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