When the Travels End in Death

When I found out Anthony Bourdain hung himself in a hotel room near Strasbourg, a border town between France and Germany I’ve been though, I started drinking at noon. Two slices of pizza but three beers, I watched the planes take off from the nearby airport and thought about how he would never go anywhere else, eat anything else, fly anywhere else. He had chosen to check out early, to leave it all behind.

I also realized something I had never even considered, I would never meet him. A big fan of all his work, I avoid the celebrity worship of today. I abhor it. But I did not realize the affect this one man truly had on my life. I felt as though the trajectory of my travels, which always seemed to lag behind him–nearly every place I went he had already went to–felt halted as well. There was now a finite amount of his travel content to consume. Simply put, I was devastated by it in a way I could not predict.

It had less to do with the end of his life than it did with the void left in mine. He had always been there, on an adventure, eating delicious food, doing things that are uncomfortable and dirty and fantastic. It’s as though I am left to fulfill his travels.

Still I can’t escape the idea that all the places, all the people he met, beers he drank, food he ate, experiences he had, were not enough to keep him around. All of that, even a young daughter, was never enough.

With my insatiable appetite for travel, writing, experiences, food, movies, music, books, all the things he loved and did, I wondered if it would ever be enough for me. Or am I doomed to be dissatisfied, always cherishing the moments I have but always looking toward the next? And what happens when the next thing isn’t as thrilling? Or what if it is too thrilling? Was life simply too good for Anthony Bourdain? He often talked of the shame that came with having “the best job in the world” and still being unhappy.

The perils of his death are beyond the loss of a TV travel personality. They are, above all things, the loss of spirit. The loss of the fight to push forward in your travels, in your experiences, your work, your life. I don’t know if I will ever feel like I’ve done it all, seen it all, experienced it all, but I hope that at the end of each day, it will be enough.

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