Can I ever relate to that quote…
I heard about Anthony Bourdain killing himself this morning, and my first thought was along the lines of wouldn’t it be nice if we could all choose the place and time of our own demise?
I realize that’s probably a fairly unpopular thought, but… why not? I mean… why do we make suicide so abhorrent? Why do we want someone to keep living when they have decided they’ve had enough? We label people sad, depressed, fighting demons… we say that if they had only called, spoken, reached out… If we had only seen the signs, asked the right questions, been there… How sad, how sad, how sad…
But no one ever says they ended their life on their own terms. Good for them.
I thought about suicide 50-something years ago as a young gay kid – and actually didn’t follow through with it because I didn’t want to hurt my parents – the people I was afraid of hurting because I was gay. Trust me – after all these years, I get the irony.
I’m rather glad I didn’t follow through and I’m glad that Anthony Bourdain waited until he was 61 – I liked a lot of what he had to say about food and travel opening up minds. I’m a living example of it. I grew up eating Filipino food and hearing Tagalog spoken because of our friends across the street. It was normal and natural – a loud and crazy family just like mine – except they ate a lot of rice and played mahjong. When I traveled overseas with Uncle Sam’s Yacht Club, I got to see even more foods and hear even more languages. I wasn’t fearful, I was intrigued. I sought out different foods and ate street food whenever I could.
To this day, the best omelette I have ever eaten was cooked in a wok on a street cornier in Singapore by an older Malaysian gentleman who spoke no English. I can still see his gold-toothed smile and I can still taste the spicy goodness of those eggs and vegetables and spices.
I’m not afraid to hear different languages here in the USofA. I’m not afraid to try different foods. I’m not afraid of immigrants. I’m not afraid of cultures different than my own. I’m not afraid of different skin tones. I love going to different countries and experiencing the foods and culture. I love going to grocery stores and markets and buying local foods to cook myself.
These are things that food and travel have given me. They are things that Anthony Bourdain was able to share on a much broader scale.
And I get the alcohol and drugs he was so open about. I don’t even want to think of the amount of money I spent on Bombay martinis and cocaine back in my restaurant and hotel days. The hours, the heat, the stress, the perfection at all times. It really is a brutal profession.
And I regret none of it. It’s been a roller coaster of a ride, but, somehow, it brought me to where I am right now – less than 3 weeks from retirement and almost 25 years with the greatest guy on the planet – and a really crazy dog.
I’m really glad the teenage me didn’t end things back then, but I still want that option in the future. I don’t want Victor changing my pampers and I’ll be damned if I will be hooked up to some damned machine for the sole purpose of making me live longer. I want to be able to decide for myself when the quality vs quantity balance shifts. I’m in no hurry. I’d like to stick around for a really long time because there are just so many people I haven’t annoyed, yet. A really long time. But I do want that option.
I’ll miss Anthony Bourdain and his sardonic wit and view of the world. I’m also glad he stayed around long enough to teach us a few things about food and life.