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June 2011 Column Shift

Posted in Features on June 1, 2011
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It is hard for me to believe I’ve been at this job for over ten yearseight with this same company. And as I have gotten older, I’ve found that my priorities have rearranged themselves greatly. When I first got into the writing biz, I was a single guy living all alone without a care in the world. Travel on assignment last minute? You bet! It was one of the perks of the job, and I could leave on a whim and not care about anything back home or how long I would be gone.

A decade later, time has changed me. I now own a house with my wife, Heather, and we have two cats and two Greyhounds. I also have a title that is more important than tech editor to a beautiful and incredibly smart (nope, not biased at all, her mother thinks the same thing) 4-year-old little girl, Marin.

With everything going on back home, traveling just isn’t the same as it used to be. Of course, it’s still fun (I mean work) to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life to go race in Baja, wheel Jeeps in Africa, or visit a design studio in Detroit. However, I find that I am happiest when I’m at home spending quality time with my family. Those of you with kids will understand.

As my daughter gets older, she is increasingly more unwilling to let me out of her sight and has to be prepared early about how long Daddy’s upcoming trip will be. Nothing quite melts your heart quite like a terse 4-year old telling you that you are not allowed to go on any more long trips or she’ll be mad.

A little over a year ago, I was packing my suitcase when Marin came up to me and with those big round eyes said, Daddy, take Homer with you. Homer, a plush Homer Simpson doll, was given to Marin by one of her aunts and is a prized possession. You see, Homer is the nickname for my Dad (Marin’s Pop Pop) and her favorite Simpsons character. For her to offer Homer up to me to keep me company on my travels was one of the most sincere and incredibly selfless acts of love I have ever experienced.

I decided right away that I would return the gesture by taking Homer with me and taking pictures of him wherever we went together, then texting them to my wife back home. This would give my little one some insight as to what I do when I am away, as well as sharing my experiences with her through the eyes of her stuffed friend.

These days, whenever Marin sees me packing my suitcase, she always tells me, Dad! Don’t forget Homer. I know that this is her way of reminding me not to forget about her while I am out on the road and to make sure we communicate daily. Over the past year this has become a fun little thing for my daughter and I to do to keep our bond strong while I am traveling. I hope it doesn’t end any time soon.

Since we began this little ritual, Homer has wheeled in Moab, sat in front of Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, and has faithfully kept me company in countless places. He has been to Mexico, checked out the SEMA Show, and endured multi-day road trips across the country. In fact, only Brubaker has traveled with me more, but unlike Ken, Homer never shows concern when the low fuel light comes on, and never forces me to listen to bluegrass on SiriusXM.

So where will Homer be going next? Who knows, but you can be sure he’ll be in my backpack, ready to send a picture back homewherever it is that the job takes me.

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