Since the news broke about the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, there has been a bloom of posts, tweets, and articles across the internet. Reflections, reminiscences, and stories told from those who knew him and those who admired him. This will be another—albeit one more personal. I suppose these are what happens when someone’s life touched so many people in so many unexpected ways.
I don’t usually get worked up about celebrity news—I never met Bourdain in person, but I felt like I did. He was something different; open, honest, and unwilling to hide. Bourdain was a masterful storyteller with a raw and unapologetic voice. Reading Kitchen Confidential felt like I was swapping stories with him at a seedy bar in Manhattan. It made me appreciate food and cooking in a way I hadn’t considered. A Cook’s Tour and No Reservations opened up the world and made me want to travel. Parts Unknown and Medium Raw were continuations of those early lessons.
“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.”
There was something about Bourdain’s punk-rock unpretentious attitude drew me in as a young man. To many, he came across as abrasive, but below his sarcastic steak was a profoundly earnest and empathetic man who cared about people. He also allowed himself to be ugly. Bourdain made mistakes, he owned up to them, and he didn’t dismiss his past. He showed many of us that it was okay to screw-up, and it was okay to love screw-ups.
I’m going to miss his writing, his authenticity, and his observations on life. I wish his last mistake hadn’t been so permanent. Often, when an author dies we mourn the loss of a voice—and that is true with Bourdain. But his writing remains, his show remains—his voice might be gone, but his life was too loud to go silent.
I’ve seen depression’s impact on more than just celebrities like Anthony Bourdain. I’ve seen it hurt friends, family, and fellow authors. Depression is a wicked beast of a thing. It tricks your mind. It lies to you. If you’re ever thinking of hurting yourself, please remember you’re loved. Seek help. You matter. We need you here. Talk or text a friend or loved one. If you can’t do that and live in the US, call 1-800-273-8255. (You can find international numbers here.)