Today, I Have Become Lost: Goodbye Anthony Bourdain

There are the musicians I enjoy, the poets I admire, the thinkers I appreciate. There are storytellers and producers and writers and actors I respect. There are the creators that make the outer edges of each day a little brighter, the artists who shape my ideas without me taking notice. There are songwriters who’ve made me cry, scriptwriters who’ve made me think and there are authors who’ve brought me to my knees.

And then there was Anthony Bourdain.

Bourdain wasn’t just someone I admired. He wasn’t just an artist I looked up to or a writer who inspired me. He wasn’t just a creator I enjoyed watching or a personality who influenced me. Rather, Bourdain was a lighthouse; a beacon from the depths of me drawing me closer to who I wanted to be. He was a beam of light calling me to myself.

Bourdain was my cornerstone and I admired him so much it hurt.

I’d be wide-eyed watching, absorbing an episode of Parts Unknown when he would, in his breezy way, weave a string of words together so beautiful it would catch my breath. My body would ache with inspiration. I’d feel so overfull of influence and the desire to write, I’d be choking on it. In the next moment, he’d pull me from my word-lust seizure with a line that could only make me laugh, filling my lungs with air once again.

I’d turn to my husband and spill over,

“No one has a better life than Bourdain.”

No one has a better life than Bourdain. I suppose someone ought to have told Bourdain that.

And now my lighthouse has gone out.

I only hope I’ve got a good enough grasp now of where it was; I hope I can find it with the maps he left me hidden in the pages of Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits, lurking in the shadows of No Reservations and buried in the subtext of Mind of a Chef.

Anthony Bourdain was everything I’ve ever wanted to be. A wanderer, a prolific writer and a good human being. Today, I have become broken. Today, I have become lost. If only he was everything he wanted to be.

Rest in peace, Tony. It’ll be a long time before these tears stop falling.

Artwork: Courtney Heard

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Peaches

    Wonderful tribute. Thanks.

  • Thank you.

  • John Simmonds

    I suppose the one great thing about all these artists that we know and love but never truly “know” is that their art is left for us to enjoy, ponder, evaluate, be inspired by forever. We only know them by how their art represents them, it’s sad that so many of them are quite clearly in a lot of pain inside.

  • I think it’ll be a while before I can watch any of his shows again.

  • Kendra Rank

    I agree with you about Bourdain’s way of conveying the feel of a country, knowing he would delve deep into aspects of culture that others would not. It’s a tragedy, his taking his own life – when he has tasted life as I shall only imagine. It’s been 17 yrs since my dad committed suicide but the frustration and confusion will always be there. I will be 57 on June 17th, Father’s Day. Oh the ironies of life.

  • davidborton

    I had a love/distress relationship w/Bourdain. As your wonderfully expressed, the words which he spewed were so expressive and evocative that I could be sitting right at the table with others and him.
    The “distress?” You could see him killing himself with booze. It just played too central a theme. Ah Tony, you had so much more to give all of us. I need to be content with that which you did give. Thank you. May you RIP.

  • James S. Boutilier

    I had the great honor of getting to know Tony back in the 80s while working at WPA – the foundational text for Kitchen Confidential. His presence was evident then, though cloaked with a certain shyness. It was a presence that they call IT in Hollywood. The unique sense of story was vibrant even then, and that amidst what was an absolutely wild and whacky crew. Sorry to disappoint Godless Mom, but I did in fact talk to Tony about theology. However, it also included boxing and martial arts of which he had a fascination even back then. He was an eager interlocutor for anyone who presented a challenge or a curiosity. But I will say, what you have written is most beautiful and touching in what is a difficult day that is hard to grasp. Well done and thank you!

  • mjg

    This loss demonstrates you never know what a person is going through. Admired by so many, he was alone. Depression is a dark, lonely place. Sadly, far too many people label depression as as self pity and, unfortunately, further distance themselves from that person. May he now rest in peace.

  • Thanks for writing this tribute.

    I was out of the country for two weeks and this is literally the first news I heard upon returning to the States. What a horrible shame. I admit I never read any of Bourdain’s books, but I thought his intelligence, curiosity, and sense of humor came through in his globe-trotting TV shows. He understood that regional cuisine doesn’t develop in a vacuum; there are historical, cultural, and even political factors that contribute to what people eat in their homes and communities. Even when he and his crew came to my home state of Massachusetts, he spent as much time talking about the ravages of the opioid epidemic and the waning of the fishing industry as he did about local food.

    Nice artwork, too!

  • skl

    Ironic and tragic.
    I guess this all wasn’t really true for Anthony:

    “And a cold local beer. My preferred brand, in every way.
    Ah. Clams with pork cracklings. How could that not be good?
    This is the way so many of the great meals of my life have been enjoyed.
    Sitting in the street, eating something out of a bowl that I’m not exactly sure
    what it is. Scooters going by. So delicious. I feel like an animal. Where have
    you been all my life?
    Fellow travelers, this is what you want. This is what you need. This
    is the path to true happiness and wisdom.”

    – Anthony Bourdain

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1410/26/abpu.01.html

  • Shirley Blake

    And that feeling of utter apathy, hopeless combined with the numbing coils of depression. We’ve lost too many. There are not enough tears for both those we’ve lost in the spot light and those who are closer to the heart. I can’t say that I followed Bourdain but my daughter did and the never ending Suicides both in the news and those I’ve personally known is beyond heartbreaking. I wish I had words.

  • Shirley Blake

    Also by the way over memorial weekend I and those close to a great person lost him through Suicide. I have not been able to cry until today.

  • Shirley Blake

    So thank you

  • So very sorry to hear about your father. It is absolutely confusing and frustrating. I don’t imagine it ever stops.

  • So true. From my perspective, he should have been the happiest guy on earth. I was so woefully ignorant.

  • He was so fair. He was so generous. He’s the sort of person I will always strive to be.

  • What a beautiful mind.

  • I’m so sorry, Shirley.