Part travelogue, part philosophical musing, Tree Abraham’s work probes the millennial experience, asking what a young life can be when unshackled from traditional role expectations yet still living in consistent economic and environmental uncertainty. Text is interspersed between drawings, scientific charts, ephemera, maps, arcane designs, and diagrams of cycles—of vehicles and of life, from the Buddhist Eightfold path to patterns of depression, desire, and motion.
“Abraham finds a way to blend tender childhood nostalgia with insightful, even hard-to-swallow, observations, highlighted against the backdrop of her cycling adventures and trials, writes Hana Shafi, author of Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty. “Spliced between coming-of-age anecdotes and musings, are bits of educational history around bikes that make this book a truly unique read.”
(11) With our limited horizon, sometimes my sisters and I would have slow bike races. While torpor requires poise and micro-movements to keep from tipping over, mostly I won because my resolute adherence to tasks outlasted the spasmodic tendencies of most children. I wasn’t about speed as much as flux. Not fast, but thorough and moving, even if sometimes microscopically.
(12) I had longings for a childhood like Vada Sultenfuss’s in My Girl. I longed to ride down Main Street through back alleys under tree-lined sidewalks to the dock beneath the willow, side by side with a bestfriend turned boyfriend. Small-town America was always presented as an idyllic playground for latchkey kids to romp around unsupervised. My suburbia lacked the charm and amenities of a quaint historic film locale. The neighborhood was sun-bleached from saplings in lieu of the forests cleared to build it; services were packaged in box-store oases surrounded by parking lot deserts; and whatever utopic delusions once lulled parents into negligence had been obliterated in the wake of missing kids on milk cartons and sensationalist news coverage of guns, drugs, and peanut allergies.
(13) I’ve noticed that time speeds by faster when biking in nature than when biking in the city. Time speeds by faster when walking in the city than when walking in nature.
(14) Self-referential encoding—the mentation that marries our environment with our identity—is made possible through entering default network mode, wherein the body is on autopilot and the brain is at wakeful rest, lost in daydream and wander. I enter this mode most often when cycling. The bike becomes a telekinetic apparatus, effortlessly channeling creative epiphanies from the world into my mind.
Tree Abraham is a queer Ottawa-born, Brooklyn-based writer, book designer, and maker of things whose design articles have been published in The Author Journal, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Spine Magazine, and All Lit Up. She has a Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Development and Environmental Sustainability and a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Illustration. She is a cover designer for publishers across North America, serves as publisher and art director for Canthius, a feminist literary journal, and is an associate art director in-house at Grand Central Publishing. Her authorship experiments with fragmented essays and mixed media visuals. When not working, she can be found travelling to unmarked places, collecting people, and cycling to swimming spots.