Goodbye, Mr. Anthony Bourdain

I think it’s really something when one of your idols falls…How a complete stranger, can have such a curious impact on your actual being.

When I was younger, my dad used to drive trucks. My parents divorced early in my life and I ended up staying with him for about two or three years. He didn’t know how to take care of me well, and he was gone a lot on the road. Instead of staying in unwelcome places…I frequently went along with him. The end of third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade I traveled around the country in a tractor trailer – missing a ton of school. I met so many kind people and immersed myself in so many different cultures. It was a very unhappy period in my life, but that is the one experience I treasure out of that time in my life.

I watched the Travel Channel a lot growing up. I felt nostalgic about my experiences and in 2005 I stumbled upon a TV show called Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. And I think the sun came out for the first time. Here on TV was this brash, funny, absolutely authentic man talking about food, its relation to culture and traveling. I started thinking…maybe, just maybe I could actually achieve my goals. Maybe I would someday travel the world.

I had an old world map that I stuck thumbtacks in. I used to just sit and stare at it for hours, imagining what my life could be like once I was able to explore.

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After High School I didn’t magically have the opportunities to just take off, but in college I started small. I started roaming the streets of New York City – every back alley, little coffee spot, off the cuff specialty store – and started seeing the city for the first time.

Graduating College, at the ceremony in our gowns, I joked with a friend about wanting to travel and maybe create a show later in life. She remarked that I could be like the next Anthony Bourdain.  I laughed and shrugged it off, but how do you tell someone that you had a picture of a middle-aged chef on your wall for inspiration?

You don’t. With these things, I think it’s deeply personal. I eventually stopped watching the Travel Channel because it had gone to hell, and was delighted to see Tony back in action on CNN’s Parts Unknown. Years later, the same authentic voice that I trusted was back. I thought about all of the experiences that really stuck out to me – Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Missing the talking statues in Caesar’s Palace, Tall rides at Jazzland (is that still a thing?), Seeing rams butt heads going across the Hoover Dam, searching for black bears in the countryside, deciding not to stay at a hotel in a bad storm and on the way back seeing it was destroyed by a tornado…and I felt reaffirmed to make my dreams come true.

Two days ago I took a very long walk to a place I often go to clear my head. I sat down and stared at the ocean for hours; taking stock of my life and reaffirming what I would like to accomplish. Now, this morning I’m awoken to my mom’s voice telling me a stranger – someone I would never meet but knowingly (dare I say) loved – was gone from this world. It may sound cruel, but ‘celebrity’ deaths usually do not impact me. I think it’s sad for a moment and then go about my day as usual. However this time, I jumped out of bed and stayed where I currently am now – in front of the TV waiting to see a tribute assembled. It feels like a small part of me, something that has become a part of my collective, has died. One of the few determining factors of inspiration that I keep buried deep in my heart.

May Mr. Tony Bourdain find whatever he was searching for in this life, in the next one. I hope he knew how many people his work truly touched. I hope to see the Vietnam he loved. I hope we realize just how important it is to live and accomplish our goals. Our dreams. Our aspirations. I hope we never feel the fear of jumping out of our comfort zone to try something new. And I hope we all continue to travel. Best wishes, and stay safe everyone.

“Stifle”

How do you tell someone about a ghost? The reincarnated soul would not even understand.

You are left haunted by the lingering memories. Alone. Stifled.

Stifle

make (someone) unable to breathe properly; suffocate.

restrain (a reaction) or stop oneself acting on (an emotion)

They say that writing coloured with emotion can be some of your greatest works; because they are your realities on the paper. Even so, sometimes it’s hard to come to the self-realization that you even have pent-up emotions. What if even now, you are stifling yourself. You are absolutely stifled. You do not want to be overtaken and swept up in lost emotions.

Stiff. Stifled. Shuffled. Shit-dismayed.

You want to talk to someone, but it is physically impossible. They are a ghost. Not that they are in the spirit world, but that they no longer exist in the form you once knew.

The magic, the energy, of encounters past haunt you in the most peculiar moments.

One moment you are drinking tea, the next moment you are reminded of the way their body smelled in a warm car on a cold, winter night. Both sheltered in a little alcove away from the rain. Safe, drinking warm tea and watching traffic pass by.

Why? Why then. You were just trying to enjoy a cup of tea. Why would that memory decide to resurface?

How do you tell someone about a ghost? The reincarnated soul would not even understand.

You are left haunted by the lingering memories. Alone. Stifled.

So maybe you should write about it?

However…

Do you even want to read what you’ve written? Do you want to lock it away in a mental vault instead?

Vaults get old; they rust.

They leak your treasures, one way or another.

So what to do, what to do.

Go to the sea, set it aside for me.

Find me a bottle, an old green glass bottle.

Send them away, raise them to the tide.

Look at your reflection in the side of the bottle.

See who you are now, let go who you were before.

If you can. If you can’t,

If you can’t;

 I know not what to tell you.

You’ll just be stifled.

As am I.

& What a lonely existence it shall be.

You came back at the worst possible time, I thought I was free.

Two Ghosts Haunting One Another.