A Tribute to Anthony Bourdain for #BourdainDay
On the one-year anniversary of the death of Anthony Bourdain, we offer this modest tribute to a hero of travel, brotherhood, and food.
I honestly didn’t know he held up a little corner of the sky until then.
I cried big, ugly tears the morning I woke to the news of Bourdain’s suicide. I am not a celebrity hanger-on. I don’t react to news like that, no matter how tragic the circumstances. But, for me, the news that Anthony Bourdain ended his own life carried a shocking emotional punch.
Anthony Bourdain, Wanderlust Hero
As a woman that grew up on five acres of pasture land in the middle of Nowhere, Texas, I fantasized about travel more than schoolgirl crushes. Give me any piece of entertainment that could show me a different part of the world, and I’ll pay more attention to the scenery than the plot. I had no such leisure with Anthony Bourdain.
Anthony was as much a force of nature than any river he got roped into navigating. His presence was as inescapable as hunger pangs. Bourdain was charming even when he was being an asshole.
When I would watch his shows, I couldn’t take my eyes off the man. I was transfixed by the juxtaposition of his swagger and tender heart. He seemed genuinely interested in the lives of the people that invited him into their worlds. Anthony obviously cared about humanity and through his storytelling, made me care about every culture he showed me.
A Small-Screen Mentor
Partly because this man went out into the world with a camera crew, I am going to go see it with my husband on our boat. Bourdain introduced me to foods I could expect to eat, the types of people I might encounter, and tried like hell to remind us all that we are more alike than we are different.
Because I got a look at the world through his eyes, I feel brave enough to follow as best I can in his footsteps. I cannot cook, but when we leave to go cruising, because of him, I will eat whatever is put in front of me with gratitude.
Anthony Bourdain Brought Addiction Into the Daylight
Bourdain might find my fawning over him embarrassing. But, he lived his life wide open, so how can he fault me for fawning? He did surgery on his own addictions and emotional wounds in his books. He cursed better than any 10 sailors put together and in a half a dozen languages to boot. He wanted honest relationships with as little small talk and bullshit as possible. I aspire to and embrace that directness.
As a woman that has battled my own depression, I found in Bourdain a kindred spirit. Any man that can be as open and honest with his battles with addiction and depression as Anthony was is a man worth celebrating. Anthony was a knife of honesty in the heart of the lies addiction and depression tell. I’m so grateful that I got to see him live his amazing life, especially shouldering the burdens he carried.
He proved to all of us that “ex” belongs in front of “heroin addict.” He proved that even depressives can live adventurous, even astonishing lives. Because he lived as he did, he showed me what might be possible if I denied my depression and let my wanderlust have its way with me.
For my own selfish reasons, I wish he had ultimately won his battle with his depression. But, I am more than grateful for his presence on this planet–I owe him a debt I can never repay.
Anthony Bourdain made me less afraid of the world.