The month leading up to my actual last day as a New Yorker was an emotional mine field. Twenty-two years is a long time, full of memories, struggles, successes, failures, loves, crushes… all associated with specific locations throughout the city. With every place I went and with everyone I saw, I consciously or subconsciously said to myself: “Take a good look. Remember everything you can. It could be the last time.”

Unlike some who leave, I did not have a party or event to mark the exit. I didn’t even announce the actual date of my departure. It was simply too hard for me. For the most part, I kept it on the down-low, making as many connections to people as time allowed. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to everyone I wanted. It was far more physically and emotionally exhausting than I imagined it to be. After all, I closed the book on nearly twenty-five years of my life. It’s big.

A key reason for my hastened and deliberately undramatic departure had to do with my mother. She has been in poor health lately, suffering from a weakened heart and lungs, and she’s been declining. After my stepfather died last summer (which was her third time being widowed), she’s had a tough time getting her bearings, even admitting to me several months ago that she felt “lost.” In my amateur observation, I’d guess that depression and sadness have been conspiring to chip away at her verve, will and desire to “get-up-and-go,” resulting in a decline in her physical well-being.

When I made the decision several months ago to move back to Cleveland, I could hear my mom’s excitement at the prospect. My siblings were also telling me that she was looking forward to my homecoming. As her visits to the emergency room grew more frequent and her stays in the hospital grew longer, it was becoming abundantly clear that cleaning up my affairs in New York and getting back home as quickly as possible was the right move.

As of this writing, I’ve been here for over a week. In that time, mom has been in (and out) of the ICU twice, in a lot of pain when she moves and not too interested in eating much. On one day in particular, it looked like we were at the end. The powerlessness that accompanies watching a loved one suffer is extremely frustrating. Against a backdrop of gutting losses for everyone in 2016, the prospect of all this isn’t thrilling.

In my case, it’s also been all-consuming, leaving me with little time or energy for much else, which isn’t healthy. This has all been a huge adjustment, and I’m working on getting a better balance with all of it. Under the circumstances, this relocation to Cleveland has not been pleasant so far. At all. I need to make time for things that bring me joy to counterbalance all of this. Otherwise, I’ll start to resent this move and be no good to anyone.

Under the circumstances, it’s been a bit difficult to write (or even think) about what to wear, what to watch, what to listen to. But I’m getting there. Contrary to what it might look like, I have not abandoned this blog or its readers. Thank you all for your patience and support.