Category: writing (Page 1 of 14)

Road Trip

FAMILY

Yes, there is definite joy in the American road trip, even the modern ones with Google maps, in-car entertainment, and multi-zone climate control.


We are all tired, all of us on the last night in the last hotel on the last leg of a rolling road trip to visit family in New Jersey. It’s a solid two hours past our children’s normal bedtime, but they are awake, their little blonde heads still damp from swimming in the hotel pool, their eyes sleepily watching cartoons as the air conditioner kicks on to chill us to sleep.

Our hotel is in Front Royal, Virginia, a town that sits along the Shenandoah ridge, one with a friendly looking Appalachian downtown and businesses named Smoots Auto Center and Knotty Pine Restaurant and Lounge. I don’t know anything about this town beyond noticing that there are a lot of what I would describe as motor lodges, a vestige, perhaps, of a time when more tourists pulled off Highway 522 to explore the caverns buried around these valleys.

This trip has been one of constant motion. We’d started this morning in a different hotel a stone’s throw from the Jersey Shore, were treated to breakfast by my aunt and uncle and their grandson, and followed that with an abbreviated but fun board game session. The night before, we’d been at a different aunt and uncle’s house, splayed out on their deck in the mild evening, my cousin’s Pandora channel playing on the outdoor speakers while their dogs yipped about. The day before, a cookout and hours-long swim at my cousin’s house in North Jersey; the day before, time spent with my aunt and three cousins at her townhouse.

In total: we have hugged and visited sixteen aunts, uncles, and cousins and their children at four different stops. In the mornings, we try to explain to our children who they are meeting and remind them how they are related.

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Let’s talk about suicide

OP-ED

 

Maybe Anthony Bourdain’s last travelogue will lead us on a journey in which we learn to take better care of each other.


I was brushing my teeth yesterday morning when my phone screen lit up with a breaking news alert. It is not unusual for the New York Times to ping me with tidbits they think I’ll find interesting, but since the phone was near the sink, and since I often have nothing better to do while brushing my teeth than scanning Twitter, I picked up the phone, turned the screen back on, and read:

Anthony Bourdain, whose memoir about the dark corners of New York’s restaurants started a TV career, died at 61. CNN said the cause was suicide.

I’m not sure how to describe the kind of reader I am, but I knew within the first four words that Bourdain was dead. Still, I had to read it twice–is that right? possible? The final sentence was a sucker punch.

I was in the seventh grade when one of our classmates committed suicide. He wasn’t someone I knew well, but even then I remembered the chilling coldness that came in understanding a living, breathing human being made the deliberate decision to stop living and breathing.

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Bourdain and Sunday Supper

IN MEMORIAM

Anthony Bourdain visits the Build Series to discuss “Raw Craft” at AOL HQ on November 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)

Anthony Bourdain taught me to look deeper into what I eat, what it says about me, and how to find empathy at the dinner table.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post originally appeared on an earlier iteration of this blog and was published on June 3, 2012. Today (June 8, 2018), news broke that Anthony Bourdain was found dead in France of an apparent suicide. 

Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations has long been a favorite show of mine. It’s one of the few television series that has earned the “season pass” setting on my DVR, which means I’ve instructed the Great TV Wizard who lives in the satellite box below my wide screen to seek out every new episode he can find and bring it back for my own viewing pleasure. I love the Great TV Wizard.

All of that’s about to change, though. Bourdain, who has been the darling child of the Travel Channel since his show broke out in 2005, has been poached by (of all channels) CNN. Travel didn’t renew No Reservations. Anderson Cooper snagged him. Even good things come to an end.

What I have long appreciated about Bourdain’s show is his thesis statement that food is a cornerstone of humanity. I saw it in the very first episode I stumbled upon, in which Tony toured Jamaica. What we eat, how we eat it, where we eat it, and with whom we eat it speaks volumes about who we are.

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