Thanks, Tony.

For my 18th birthday, I wanted to go to Les Halles. Not that I could afford any decent cut of steak, but for the chance to bump into my hero. I knew he didn’t work there anymore, but I kept up hopes he’d stop in and I could tell him ‘No Reservations’ took up every spot on my DVR.

That year is still the hardest and loneliest time of my life and Bourdain’s travels were some of the only things that could take my mind off the chaos happening around me… but it wasn’t just a distraction — I believe he changed the way I grew up.

Here was this girl, 18, truly terrified of everything — entranced by this rock star who traveled the world, met incredible people and all the while, stayed humble.

Who could’ve seen that over the next few years, I would travel the world on my own? Become just as opinionated and unapologetic? That I would demand a bifana at the Feast of St. Anthony in Lisbon, eat red ants in a garlic sauce in Cambodia… it was all in no small part, because of him.

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Thank you, Tony. For fighting for women, for inspiring me to bloom. I’ve always wanted to write just like you. Share a bottle of wine and pick your brain about how to be honest and yet still connect with absolutely everyone. I made so many of my friends watch ‘Parts Unknown’ in hopes of maybe getting a better understanding of why I’m me.

The lessons you taught me still guide the way I live my life; I am always striving to hold onto humility and be an empty glass, because of you. I hope the eats are delectable and the beer is cold, wherever you are. I look forward to sharing that bottle of wine.

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or self-harm or is anxious, depressed, upset, or needs to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

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