A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Michael Casey
My first Harley-Davidson was the single greatest material possession I’ve ever owned. It was the source of intense feelings, which led to the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. Those feelings stemmed from a roadside memorial made of bright blue and yellow faux flowers, a picture of a young man framed in white poster board, and a Mylar balloon reflecting the sunlight. On the street was a long black mark the width of a motorcycle tire. There lay a dark and unsettling stain on the asphalt where the black mark ended. The last ride this young man took on his motorcycle made the possibility of death seem so much more real to me. The events that took place on this stretch of road made me realize that I had to let go of my beloved customized bike. This was the Harley I had always wanted and one that I intended to keep forever. I spent countless hours and thousands of dollars customizing her to reflect my personality. We rode in the bitter cold, under the scorching heat of the sun, and through rainstorms, which had turned roads into small rivers. Her engine roared and vibrated resonantly. The sound was a thunderous, deep hum, which continuously reverberates in my mind. Her mechanical breath created a flurry of dust and dirt as she exhaled through the brilliant, mirrorlike chrome exhaust pipes. In the seat, nothing could breach the pseudo armor created from the pride and feeling of riding this iron horse. All I could think was that if I sold this bike, all the effort put into it would be worthless. Passing the memorial every day saddened and angered me. I was angry at the thought of selling what I saw as the perfect motorcycle. I was angry at my own selfishness for putting this thing ahead of the ones I love, angry for having paid hundreds each month for the loan and insurance when it should have gone to my family. Most of all, the vision of the memorial saddened me with the possibility of turning a wife into a widow and leaving a 3-year-old daughter to grow up without a father. The thought was too serious to ignore. So the time I spent sitting in the flame embroidered leather seat became less and less. Sensing that the last ride was coming soon, I drove to a park and without thinking or hesitating, slipped through the gate. Riding down an old, bumpy, paved path, dotted with enormous oak trees draped with Spanish moss, I spotted a clearing. Here the path ended, and there was a field of green, soft, wispy grass; it was a beautiful clearing aligned magically with the setting sun. I had found the perfect place to photograph my bike for the “for sale” ad. I was finally ready to let go of my beautiful bike. Shortly after placing the advertisement in the local paper, my pride and joy was sold. The day she rode away, I understood that while she wouldn’t be my last bike, I wasn’t ready for my first.