To Anthony Bourdain, From A Lifelong Fan

I never ever expected to read you passed away from suicide.

“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

I expected to learn of your death some twenty years from now. Writing your last criticism of modern society.

Eating a final tiny morsel of street food in a remote country for your next episode–your final episode. And drinking one last drink. One final drink to screw with all your detractors. Ramones playing in the background. Specifically “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!

Never suicide. Not suicide.

Anthony Bourdain passed June 8, 2018. And it has taken me this long before I feel ready to write about it. But I haven’t stopped thinking about it since the day I learned of the news.

“Life is complicated. It’s filled with nuance. It’s unsatisfying… If I believe in anything, it is doubt. The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple fucking answer.”

You first entered our world when you were shooting a special for the Food Network. You were revisiting the Culinary Arts school you graduated from, where you learned to become a professional chef. I remember watching that episode. I found it while flipping through stations.

I thought nothing of it. And then later you showed up again on the Travel Channel with No Reservations. I used to watch your show all the time whenever I saw it on TV. Even the reruns.

I promised myself to read your book. But it wasn’t until this past year, almost twenty years later did I finally read and finish your first book, Kitchen Confidential.

Two days before you died I randomly watched a Vice YouTube video of you hanging out with your film crew. Getting happy drunk. Messing around at your old restaurant. A video I found randomly in the morning before heading out to work.

“Basic cooking skills are a virtue… the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill. [It’s] as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.”

A world without you is a little less warm. A voice we grew to trust and know is missing. Forever.

My friend, you were an honest voice through this world’s chaos and madness.

“I don’t have an agenda, but I do have a point of view, and it might change from minute to minute.”

A fair critique of the lies. The situation of the world is already unsettling. But you did your best to bring the world we didn’t see and often didn’t think about to each one of our living rooms.

I call you my friend because I feel like I know you. I never met you. I never talked to you. I never wrote to you. We never texted. We never knew each other personally.

But I feel like I knew you. At least, how you presented yourself on TV. Your honesty about battling with addiction and depression spoke to me.

Every day I battle with depression. Every day I fight my anxiety. It never goes away.

Those of us who live with this disease only learn how to better cope. There are good days, and there are bad days. I have found myself sometimes isolated because I am often filled with anxiety in social situations. You were the example I wanted to replicate. The honest stoicism I wanted to emulate.

You used words like ingredients. You sautéed, tossed and served a collection of essays cooked to perfection. And served them fresh. Perfectly plated. An honest passion for the truth.

I had always wished to tell you all these things one day in person. One day you might have been willing to sit down at a table with me. Drink and eat to our heart’s content while talking about everything big and small.

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

Dear Tony,

This is for you.

We will all miss you. You were gone too soon for this earth. You were too good for this earth. You were too good for us to keep.

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