Ever wish you could just get away from it all? A 62-year-old British man grew so tired of his wife’s incessant nagging that he decided to up and leave everything behind, ditching his on-the-grid lifestyle and his unhappy marriage for a decade of living off the land.
Malcolm Applegate documented his experience on the Emmaus Greenwich website, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness.
“Before becoming a companion at Emmaus Greenwich, I was a gardener in Farnborough for 25 happy years,” he wrote. “I loved the job and I still love tending to gardens now.”
“It wasn’t until I got married that my life became increasingly unsettled,” Applegate continued. “The more work I took on, the angrier my wife got – she didn’t like me being out of the house for long periods of time.”
At first, Applegate did everything he could to make his wife happy and stuck it out for “a long time,” hoping that things would change. He eventually decided to take a different tack when he found himself at the end of his rope.
“Without a word to anyone, not even family, I packed up and left,” he recalled. “I went missing for 10 years. On leaving, I camped in thick woodland near Kingston, and made that home for five years while maintaining the gardens at a local community centre for the elderly.”
Applegate was happy enough with his semi-nomadic lifestyle, but it wasn’t until he found the Emmaus Greenwich shelter that he realized he could get his old life back together. Since moving in, he has reconnected with certain members of his family, including the sister he had not seen for ten years.
“It had been a decade years since I’d last seen her, and in that time she had been to all of the Salvation Army hostels in the South trying to find me; I think she assumed I was dead,” he wrote. “I wrote her a letter once I was settled in Greenwich and she phoned me up, in floods of tears.”
As for his wife, well… they’re still not talking.