“This is our version of being whole—as immigrants and as Texans.” In this movingand beautiful personal essay, Jenny Tinghui Zhang reflects on family, sacrifice, and a life of driving in Texas. Zhang describes a childhood and adulthood ruled by the road, her parents’ hard work over the decades, and a family separated by long distances.

Once, when I visited my parents in Katy over the holidays, I walked in on them riding their stationary bikes, which they had placed next to each other in front of the TV. I don’t know how long I stood there watching them. I felt melancholy seeing them together like this, pedaling in place in the same direction but still separated and going nowhere. My mother had achieved tenure at her community college, and my father was at a good place with work. Neither of them wanted to risk another bout of unemployment by giving up their job.

They shouldn’t have to pedal this hard only to stay in place, I remember thinking. They shouldn’t have to live in this disjointed fracture. I stood there watching them and I wondered: How much longer can we do this? Just how much distance can a family withstand?

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.