There’s a lot we can say after a suicide. After learning about Anthony Bourdain this morning, my breath caught in my throat. I tried to eek out words, but was overcome with a darkness I’d never felt after the loss of a celebrity.
Earlier in the week, news that Kate Spade had passed left me uneasy. I knew who she was and though I adore her fashion, I myself have never been in a position to own anything Kate Spade. Her story and move to the top of the fashion world was inspiring, but not a part of me. Bourdain, however. He was a piece of me.
I began to explore food in high school, and the moment I’d had a taste of food prepared in the kitchen of Le Bec-Fin, former Philadelphia 5-star restaurant, it was a new world. The feeling of those first bites were the raw and pure joy I only ever experienced as a child. I recall riding down a hill on my bike, feet off the pedals, legs splayed in a V shape in front of my frame, hands gripping the bars, closing my eyes for just a moment as the laughter ran from my lips. As I traveled more and experienced more cultures and foods, it became like sex. Never the same, but always something fantastic about it. Something I’d continue to crave. That was Bourdain and food. Like a good bike ride and sex. Doing it for the pure enjoyment- nothing to hold back.
He loved life and how it tasted.
But to say we didn’t all know he was haunted would be a lie. A somewhat sordid past of drugs, drinking, addiction, wives and a new(er) relationship, he’d come out of Hell, to some degree, but was always the bad boy. The punk rock chef we loved.
I don’t agree with everything he said, nor did I ever relate to his disdain for TV chefs making recipes easier to cook for parents who have no time. It’s a part of him I felt very disconnected to- the fact that he didn’t seem to need a lot of time with those who truly needed him there. Like he didn’t grasp certain parts of parenting, or how hard it is to be average middle class. I don’t know how he only allotted 5 days a month to see his daughter. I’ll never know how he was able to split his time between so many places and still call them all home, but that’s something I almost envy. But I did understand his lack of love for vegetarians. I will always crave his bravery in trying new things and admission that he surrounds himself with people who will help him reach his goals. I share his adoration of travel and drive to move. To just get up and move.
And then he took the biggest leap of all, and ended his life without permission of those he loved. Without confirmation that it was the end, without enough reason. Because is there ever enough reason?
I will not miss him, I did not know him.
To say that I will miss him is a great injustice to the people who did know him. Who loved him fiercely; who are broken, lost. Those who feel guilt, anger, and hurt like they’ve never felt- and hopefully will never feel again. But there are things I will miss.
I will miss his wisdom, I will miss his voice speaking new words that I’ve never heard as I’ve gorged myself time and time again on each of his shows and documentaries. I’ve read his words, his advice, his recounts of events that may or may not have been exactly as he said depending on the influence he was under at the time. I will miss the most punk rock chef that has ever lived, and now ever died. And weep for the culinary world that lost a great one far too soon.
When I die, I will decidedly not be regretting missed opportunities for a good time. My regrets will be more along the lines of a sad list of people hurt, people let down, assets wasted and advantages squandered.
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