As I said in an old post, I inherited my love for travel from my Grandma. She used to go to Europe pretty much every year, and bring me back a doll or some other keepsake. She or my Grandpa would tell a few tales of where they’d been or what she’d seen. Honestly, I don’t remember much, but I do remember the general feeling of excitement and adventure.
I never thought I’d be able to travel beyond the U.S. or the Caribbean. The first time I went to Hawaii, when I got married, was a bit of a dream come true as I never thought I would make it there unless I was extremely lucky. I was indeed.
When I moved from middle America to the East Coast it was ait of a shock, but it was ultimately a very good thing for me. I was exposed to new things that I hadn’t experienced in the Midwest. I moved to a neighborhood where I was most certainly the minority. I started trying new foods that either weren’t available back home, or that I was just too scared to try. I fell in love. I got married and we slowly started to do some traveling. Most of it was to our families. As we got older and had more expendable income, we traveled more often.
We started watching travel shows, and came upon Anthony Bourdain’s shows. This tall, geeky, self-assured man would travel to places I didn’t know that I wanted to go to. Each episode not only offered some crazy food he’d try and moan about, but more importantly showed landscapes and people that were simply amazing. I remember watching several of his episodes in Thailand and Vietnam and thinking, “Maybe we should go there?”. It was something I hadn’t even considered before.
Bourdain made it less scary to go to places where people didn’t look like you, and taught you that it was actually silly to be nervous about these places in the first place. The last episode I remember watching was him in Vietnam actually *driving* a motorbike. Not just riding it. And he looked totally comfortable.
It’s really odd to me that I had no idea the impact he had on me until I found out about his death. I didn’t understand why I was so upset. I mean, I always thought he was a good guy with maybe a little bit of jerk thrown in, but why was this so unsettling when obviously I never knew the man? I came to the conclusion that if it wasn’t for his shows I probably would never have gone to Asia or to Africa–the two best trips of our lives so far. Hell, I probably would never have gone further than the 100% comfortable places, and I would have missed out on so much. I would have missed all the best bits.
So thank you, Anthony. You opened up the world to me. RIP.