My Life of Radical Idealism Comes to an End

Palau Nacional, Barcelona - photo by Stephen StringerPalau Nacional, Barcelona – photo by Stephen Stringer

When I was a young man, I began searching for the meaning of life. Along the way, I wrote a travel journal, a mix of prose and poetry, and labelled it Fool’s Odyssey.

I’d gone to Barcelona in pursuit of the beautiful-but-unobtainable Gabriella and the even more unobtainable meaning of life. Both had eluded me. Nevertheless, I spent one final night of radical idealism with Gabriella and her Marxist friends.

There was a youth rally “Muy Grande y Patriótico!” on the hill in front of the city’s Palau Nacional. The communistas and the socialistas were out in league—the hard-sell and soft-sell together. Franco was still dead, and Spain’s allegiance, like Gabriella’s, beckoned to be claimed.

Gabriella, her possible boyfriend Antonio (even he seemed unsure), Gabby’s best friend Mónica (who wanted me almost as much as I wanted Gabby), and I scaled the steps of the Palau.

When we reached the top, we pretended we could see Spain’s future from there. I looked out at the youthful idealists and flapping red banners, and thought of the Statue of Liberty’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’” And then, for one tenuous moment, I thought, “God, if only I could always feel this warm inside I could be happy, no matter what the actual truth was. Couldn’t I?”

But later that night, walking back to my pensión, I began to chill again. I couldn’t retain the warmth of the parade away from the parade. And once again, in the marketplace Las Ramblas, among the shadows, I saw the haunted and homeless, and thought of the refrain I’d heard the night before:

“And the Ramblas is pain,

and the Ramblas needs rain…”

This third life of the three I’d lived since flying to London had been the hardest to lay hold of. But now it was the hardest to let go. Perhaps because I knew it would be the last.

Gabriella had said, “The communístas have a better plan, maybe even a perfect one.” And I wanted to believe it, if for no other reason than that she was just so damned pretty. I’d loved laughing in a manly baritone, and wearing itchy turtlenecks, and reconstructing society with condiments on table-tops. But something was wrong.

“…and the Ramblas is pain,

and the Ramblas needs rain…”

They said there was a drought that year.

Maybe there always had been.

To read the next episode, click here.


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Fool's Odyssey, Memoir, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to My Life of Radical Idealism Comes to an End

  1. Pingback: When Your Favorite Delusion Starts to Fade | Mitch Teemley

  2. You write with such power and grace, Mitch. Can’t wait to read what happens next. God bless!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. jeffrockwood says:

    Nice piece of writing Mitch!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh that is so good! I love the rhythm focusing down to the couplet. The piece feels like a long walk in a caged space.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. GolNaran says:

    So thoughtful and admirable writing,
    I really admire your wonderful pen,


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chioma says:

    Wonderful writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gpavants says:


    It all sounds good in a passionate moment, right? But reality sets in and that’s good because then the truth can come out. Nothing we do makes a different without the Lord in our lives.

    In Christ,


    Liked by 1 person

  8. MayankS says:

    Intelligently written account !

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ann Coleman says:

    That was excellent, Mitch! I think youth and idealism have always gone hand in hand. The problem is, the reality never even comes close to the imagined.

    Liked by 1 person

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