Why Would You Leave When It Was So Good?

Just over broke, working long hours into the late night on the line, you banged out Steak and Fries, Confit de Canard, and Gratine des Halles, surrounded by swearing, sweating bodies slamming sauté pans over the fire. Plates crowded the pass with impatient Pick Up shouts from whomever was expediting that night. Your after-after hours spent at the only open bar down the street, meeting up with kitchen comrades from other restaurants. Your wife already accustomed to sleeping alone.

But you loved the life, hard life. An outlaw with a ten inch french knife and a microplane, part of a brotherhood in aprons. At mid-life you owned no home, had no savings, and could barely make rent. Barely enough for drugs.

When you penned that exposé to the New Yorker that pulled the sheet off the reality in the nations restaurant kitchens you shot like a cork into another dimension. A trajectory that sent you around the world, with us, your prime time entourage, following every step of that windfall that erased all your past hardships and filled your coffers. And you found true love, and had a baby girl. For her you got clean. 

And because we knew your hardships we celebrated your good fortune, because you were the real deal human being. No pretence shadowed motives. Obvious to everyone that you held the world by the tail.

You had once said, of your new life, that you felt like you had stolen an expensive car and kept looking in the rear view mirror for the flashing lights. But you came through the mire, and you made something real and soulful and honest. So maybe we could do that too.

You have the network finally heeled to your creative vision, you love what life unfolded for you. You said so. You look so happy. You hold to your own terms, never succumbing to the lurid lure of a sell out. 

You are embraced and folded into a hundred million hearts as kin, and are held there. We never faltered or showed concern you would one day not come. There was so much life yet. Of course you’d come. But one summer day you didn’t. Instead you decided to shed your body in a lovely room at the Hotel Chambard. Leaving us all behind to question, leaving your daughter to question, when the living is easy when is not living easier?

~  ~  ~

When Anthony Bourdain left the room, he took the air with him. I still struggle with his suicide. I still find it difficult to watch any of his series, distracted by questions like; what was the last discussion he had and had he already decided to carry out his final act during that discussion; had he already planned to do it when he arrived at the Hotel Chambard; did anyone one in his entourage notice a difference in him? More disturbing and painful are thoughts of picturing him standing alone in his hotel room, preparing what he would need to carry it out. Thinking. And now, when I see him on T.V. I see him as he might have been found that morning.

I feel cheated somehow. Blind sighted, because he was the good guy. The solid one who made it. And while I make attempts to accept it was his decision, that we all have that right to leave this life on our own choosing, I grapple with the selfish thought that he had no right to leave that amazing life he created. That he had no right to be depressed. And I will never come to understand or accept him leaving his teenage daughter broken by this.


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