On Friday, I woke up to a set of text messages in my family's What's App chat about Anthony Bourdain. I quickly Googled his name and saw a flood of information about his death. I say death because I don't want to say suicide. If I say it, the many memories of all the shows I shared with him get watery before my eyes. The ballsy man from Jersey who I wanted to be when I grew up becomes human and frail and hurt.
The days following his death, I stayed away from social media as much as I could. My habit of scrolling through Instagram was a brief reminder, then I would shake my head and close the app. Brief glimpses showed me photo after photo of him with one of his many quotes and a caption about resting in peace. I had the similar gross feeling of disdain that starts in the back of my throat after countless thoughts, prayers, and needs for God after a school shooting flood my social media. My stomach turned. I found something vulgar in all the shares and social media sentiments. I also imagined him mocking the fakeness in it all.
I didn't know Anthony Bourdain. I shared many meals with a man I never met in person. I mourned him this weekend though. I still mourn him. As I type this, my eyes fill and I blink to keep them from overflowing. The logical side, my brain asks, "Why are you sad about someone you never even met? Get over it!" The softer side, my heart says, "He seemed to be everything you ever wanted to be. He taught you tons of things about food and people and culture. He taught you how to really eat. And even though there was a screen between you, he always seemed to be talking to you."
That's the magic he had, right? I judge those social media posts and wrinkle my nose, but yet, I type this. A normal man, from Jersey, always made us feel as if a regular Joe could make it. He talked about falling up when addressing his success. If he could do it, couldn't we? Couldn't I? He touched a world of people on and off screen, this is quite apparent by the amount of digital noise. I don't want to believe he committed suicide, because if I do, then what does that mean for the rest of us?
Saturday, I drove home from my guitar lesson, and Nirvana's Breed came on the radio. Then my brain started to do a mental tick of the artists whose talent I've admired and consumed. Kurt Cobain. Ernest Hemingway. And now...
Anthony Bourdain was 61 fucking years old.