We lost another bright light today. Anthony Bourdain. Known to friends as Tony. He of the rakishly handsome and windswept face and hair, the tattooed arms, the bad boy past, the accolades, the larger than life life. Behind it all, it seems, was a dark gulf out of which he could not see. And we are less because he is gone.
And because Katherine Brosnahan, known publicly as Kate Spade, could not escape the darkness either. And because neither could so many others, from the darling boy in cowboy boots with whom I shared a seriously mutual crush so very many decades ago, to the siblings I knew from afar who simply couldn't be here anymore, to, perhaps, some of those who called in to the suicide prevention hotline I volunteered at while in grad school.
Why are there so many angry drivers, I wonder? Why do they seem so entitled to the road as their personal track? Where must they be so quickly? Why do they honk and yell and flip the bird? Even that police man who chased me down the five-lane street, side by side as my kids sat in my back seat, screaming at me through (hopefully) thick- enough glass, making obscene hand gestures at me as I deigned to honk at a driver who ran the red and cut me off when I was just trying to get my boys to swimming lessons?
Why do they speed through our neighborhood despite nearly daily pleas to slow down, because there are kids and pets and older folks and neighbors biking and walking and gardening and trying to just be.
I think about the article I recently read about how uniform the red carpets have become. How female celebrities no longer trust or can afford to trust their own preferences in fashion and so the likes of Cher and Bjork have given way to uniformly coiffed and pretty people. A vanilla parade of sponsored Hollywood lobbyists. Who maybe don't even know what they're selling, who they're working for, or why.
I amble down my driveway early one Tuesday to find my newly-emptied and freshly-bagged compost bin dripping with dog pee. I will have to clean up this mess, and I wonder who left it for me. Who saw all the grassy space all around and either didn't care or was too absorbed in their hand-held hypnotic to notice their dog urinating all over and into a neighbor's compost bin. Who didn't stop it or who didn't bother to clean it up or who didn't even notice because they were looking down instead of up, instead of around.
I see small children taken from their parents. I hear bluster and mendacity gushing from "leaders." I see poisoned water and overt racism and poverty and desperation. I see everyone passing the buck and kicking the can. I see that in my own front yard after a willingness to spend to repair the cheat of others results in a flooded yard and no one willing to say, "Maybe it was me. I'll fix it." It's mostly, "It was him. It was her. It's THEM." and no responsibility taken.
I hear the nearly-constant refrains of fatigue and overwhelm.
I love-hate social media and how marvelous it is to be in touch with people all over this world and simultaneously how grotesque it is to see the lengths some will go to to curate their lives and powder the pocked and shellac the dull and put a bow on it all. The meanness and judgment that come from anonymity and the ease of othering from afar.
Shut up and do something with your time. Go meet a neighbor or volunteer a few hours or be real and ugly cry with someone. Connect. Give. Tend. Our communities are dissolving all around us. Don't wait for a call; make one!
I can't help but see all these things as interconnected. I can't help but think that the vanilla'ing and the curation and the isolation and the looking down and forgoing of the basic decency of being in community with others are all related. In seriously deleterious ways.
Tony and Kate are but public examples of the pain all around. They are reminders that wealth and fame and privilege and fortune mean little in the face of depression and loneliness and the inability to feel that we can surmount the expectations that the superficial tabloid-glossy parts of society lay before us as worthy living. The inability to believe that ever will the US reckon with and excise its cancerous bits, leaving promise and room for the most who live here.
My heart hurts for all we've lost this week. Those who brought color and joy and aspiration and connection to us so often for so long. Those who were famous and those who weren't.