Today, the world mourns the untimely loss of one of the sharpest and most sensitive humans it has ever known, the Father of Modern Food Culture, Anthony Bourdain.
I was just a young girl when Tony planted the seed of lofty aspirations. There, in front of a box television set, I decided I wanted to be just like him – exploring one far away place after another, immersing myself in the local culture without fear. He seemed to understand my dread of perpetual boredom, of being stuck or standing still; he could also whimsically articulate that which I vehemently defend: for good or for bad, experiencing other ways of life has a significant impact on the soul.
In fact, Tony and I share a number of astrological placements and peculiarities, including Virgo in the First House ruling self expression (see: analytical), Libra in the Second House of aesthetic preferences and material items (see: refined), Scorpio in the Third House of communication (see: strategic) and Aries in the Eighth House of death and transformation (see: pioneering), to name a few. But really, it is the experience of long-suffering and insatiable wanderlust which, in my mind, ties us together; astrologists might attribute this to our shared placement of Sagittarius in the Ninth House of expansion, luck and travel.
Over the years, I watched him strut crowded and weathered streets in Hanoi and Lima and from Manila to Medellín. What came across to some audiences as irreverence for the dangers, real or fabled, therein felt more to me like authentic openness to experiencing whatever was there and was meant for him. Through this vulnerability and guided by a sense of fate, Bourdain acted like a sponge; he soaked all that he could, spread the knowledge gained and returned to form, seeking restlessly to further develop himself.
I carry this same spirit on my own travels, the most memorable of which thus far was a solo adventure to the northern coast of Colombia (against the wishes of many well-meaning family members and friends). In fact, my first international trip alone coincided with my first time in South America. It was an experience that broke me in more ways than one, but I survived to feel more human and more vulnerable than ever. I also returned with the confidence that the next time I embarked on such an adventure would be easier and, if not easier, at least different. Because of those things, I felt empowered and enriched.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
June 25, 1956-June 8, 2018
To adoring fans like me, Tony was as close to a rock star as one can get without having ever recorded a song; he wore honesty as a badge of honor and bore the responsibility of raising cultural awareness. He put himself physically and emotionally on the line so that those of us without the courage or the means could, too, experience pieces of the world and grow. The memories and lessons he shared we will never forget.