Real stories from Australia's craziest family.
Going To Visit Daddy
Thursday, 21st June 2018
I think most people have a retirement exit plan tucked away in their minds… A fantasy tree change, a little sparkling dream of an idea, a sacred crystal of hope to cling to.
Imprisoned in our usual day to day, committed to the demands of others, tethered to financial chains – we live the illusion of a free life, continually baiting ourselves to clock on/clock off.
We cling ever tighter to our crystal of hope, adding embellishments over the years. If life gets particularly harsh, we think, we've got that crystal to pull out, like one of Superman’s crystals in his Fortress of Solitude – we can blow on it for luck before jamming it straight into the console like an old Atari cartridge, ready to transport ourselves to a new life.
Perhaps your dream is to keep bees on a hobby farm in rural Tasmania, raise pigs or run a little B&B, live in a house with a view of the ocean... Perhaps like me you haven’t formulated your own exit plan so well, but you know your partner’s intimately.
My husband Timothy Poulton, famed landscape photographer, takes people trekking into remote, freezing mountain ranges, they sleep in deserted trail huts and tents, waking up with icicles on their noses.
Others may see this as torture – my husband loves it. In fact, the further he gets from civilisation he says, the more his senses come alive. Tim’s crystal of hope is to live in a remote arctic landscape, an unlabelled place unscanned by Google Maps.
I have visions of future Christmases, pilgrimages with grown children and small grandchildren in tow, a single line of Little Poulton’s, Aldi snow boots sinking feet deep into snow as we traverse off the grid, leaving behind the last vestiges of civilisation where local delicacies include snacking on roadkill.
Of being dropped into the wilderness days earlier by a bewildered Uber snowmobile driver, who called out – “Beware of the Yeti!” to which I replied, “My husband is the Yeti!"
A week of trekking, finally we see a wisp of smoke curling from the chimney of a log cabin hewn of ancient pine, a large lumbering shape in the distance more like a bear at first glance. As we draw closer – greyed oilskin and furs, craggy hair and a wizened face barely visible.
“There’s Pappa!” one of the Little Poulton children will call out.
The hut will stink of incontinence, we will boil a cauldron of ice melt having carted in a gas bottle on skis just for this particular task, we will strip him and throw him in, scrub till his skin glows pink, take scissors and razors to his beard and hair. We will boil his clothes and dry them by a searing fire, take out shrink-wrapped packets of Christmas food to share.
Having been alone for so long it will take Tim a while to recall the ability to speak, he will wrestle with our intrusion but finally submit. Eventually he will remember one of his bottles of whiskey buried a decade or more before, and we will make a toast to his victorious retirement exit!
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What is your fantasy retirement exit?
Here's a picture of Leonardo in 'The Revenant', morphing into my intrepid traveller husband tim.
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