I tried to put it out of my mind but as my departure date got closer I contemplated what to do with Annabelle. I thought about bringing her back to Canada with me, I thought about keeping her in Korea so I would be prepared in the event of my return, I thought about jumping her off a bridge or pushing her down a mountain so she could go out in a blaze of glory but I didn't advertise her.
By and by I had a number of people came along to inquire about her status, I mentioned that I would keep them in mind once I made up my mind. I came to the conclusion that it would be selfish to let Annabelle waste away when she could bring joy to someone else. We agreed on the time and a location that the exchange would take place.
I watched my class graduate the day before, there by finishing my last day of teaching, so I was free to spend all day saying goodbye. I slept in a little and, needing to run a few errands, took Annabelle up town to pick up some last minute things and stopping at Young's Bap one last time to pick up my favorite, two rolls of chamchi kimbap.
Having picked up everything I wanted before heading back to Canada, Annabelle and I set out to make the last of our time count. There would be time to pack up later, there would have to be, we had been blessed with a beautiful day and it would be a shame to waste it. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and all, as far as I could tell, was right with the world.
We took off with no set plan or direction, we went where ever the roads took us, just being together was enough. Contrary to many of the other good-byes I had already experienced the mood was not as somber as one might fear. Annabelle was as playful and full of spunk as ever, as if she didn't know what was to take place later that day. I played along as to not give anything away, I did not want to disappoint her.
We were as good a team as could be. Slicing through corners stronger and faster than ever. At times she would tease me in to thinking we were going too fast, only to laugh on the exit knowing that more was possible. This only urge me faster around the next. It was pure bliss.
It wasn't all go, go, go. We stopped when Annabelle was thirsty, we stopped to gallivant on a few beaches, we stopped(but mostly slowed a little) to gaze out over the beautiful scenery. But it was mostly go, go, go.
We saw all the sights that could be seen from the road, but didn't matter, I was with Annabelle. We traversed mountain passes and blasted through valleys, but it didn't matter I was with Annabelle. We rode the East coast from South to North, but it didn't matter I was with Annabelle. The whole while she whispered sweet nothings in my ear as we rode(as only her 125cc engine could).
But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and while I did say we set out without a plan, that was a lie. We were headed off the island for the last time together, for Tongyeong, which became clearer every passing kilometer. But I wasn't going to let her go quietly. We blasted off the island, hitting our highest top speed yet, 110 km/h.
Due to our blasting we were a little early which meant we had a little more time, time that I did not intend to waste. The entrance to the town was located in a little valley, with the highway rising up on either side, at the top of either side was an intersection.
If you can't already picture what we did with the extra time that is alright because I will tell you. We blasted around the 3 kilometer loop as fast a we could do. First down, then up, then a u-turn; repeating it for the remainder of our time together.
When our time was up, we made our way to, what I thought was our meeting point. As you may have guessed from the previous sentence, I though I knew where it was but when I went inside I realized that it was not the right place. I did not know how to get to our agreed upon meeting place.
Without a cell phone, phone number, or address, Annabelle and I frantically took to the road to find the right location. Thinking I may have taken the wrong exit in to town I back tracked only to find that we had taken the right exit. I looked for a place to turn around but it wasn't easy as we were on the highway.
I finally spotted something that looked like an area to turn around but upon slowing down and looking closer it was not to be. I geared down and looked to get back in to the flow of traffic. I spotted my entrance and twisted the throttle.
Annabelle made a sickening mechanical report and despite the increased revs refused to speed up at all. I piloted her safely to the edge of the road and turned her off hoping that what had just happened was simply a figment of my imagination. I waited a while and started her back up. I shifted her in to first, nothing. I went up to second, she pulled a little bit but quickly let go. There was a similar result with third, fourth, and finally fifth gear.
For many, this would have elicited feelings along the lines of anger, frustration or worry but all I felt was peace. This response may sound unnatural as this event would have deeply troubled my heart had it been at any other time. But now it was as if on cue, Annabelle would have wanted it this way. It was as if Annabelle was telling me that she could not and would not live with out me.
I rolled her off the highway and behind a gas station, where I found a small patch of open gravel at the top of a hill. I gently rocked her kickstand down one last time, and help her slowly down to rest on it. Having travelled a total of 29105 kilometers, 4800 of those with me, Annabelle and I said goodbye for the last time.
I placed my riding pants and jacket in the saddle bags, put my helmet on the backrest and walked away knowing that Lord Alfred Tennyson was right when he said, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all."
That day was February 29, 2012.