Free Time

Marty on his Yamaha by Grace Crouch, 1982
Marty on his Yamaha by Grace Crouch, 1982

Dad, how did you spend your free time before you had kids?

After our marriage, we had very little free time and money before children. We lived off campus in Corvallis on Washington Street in a recently-built apartment. Linda worked full time at The Clothes Tree, a specialty clothing store for women, still in business today. She was pregnant with baby Corina and grew over-tired from being on her feet on the sales floor each day.

I was a full-time senior finishing my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. I also devoted time to researching, interviewing, and traveling in search of post-college employment, interviewing in California, Oregon and Arizona. Flying here and there at a company’s expense was a heady experience, but I felt like a poser, not emotionally or mentally ready to enter the world of work. The idea of moving out of Oregon only increased my anxiety.

One of our favorite together activities in that time was to begin walking in some random direction knowing that we would end up at a nearby Baskin-Robbins, in search of Jamoca Almond Fudge on a sugar cone. This fit our limited budget, which did not support restaurant meals and concerts. Movies were a favorite date-night entertainment. We also visited with other couples as host or guest occasionally.

We continued at Suburban Christian Church in Philomath on Sundays but were less involved than when we were single.

Our apartment neighbors were mostly newlyweds. The husband next door had an avid off-road vehicle hobby. I was interested in his Kawasaki and pestered him with questions. He graciously took me out riding a couple of times and let me take turns riding on some vacant property south of town. He liked to jump his bike over bumps and berms, and was working up to a wheelie. I became enamored with getting my own dirt bike, and became a frequent gawker at the motorcycle store in downtown Corvallis. As my college career wound down, I decided to sell a stock investment that I had hoarded and purchased a brand new red Yamaha, a graduation present to myself.

Dirt bike riding was not an interest that Linda and I shared, nor an appropriate hobby for a young father — it’s an expensive solitary activity with a high risk of injury. It took me several years to come to terms with this reality and I sold the Yamaha to help purchase our first home on Dale Avenue in Beaverton.