Drawn Away, but Not to a Close

A self-portrait of the author.

Five years ago, I moved to New York from California. It was a big change, and I struggled for a while to feel connected to the big, noisy, crowded city.

Soon after I arrived, though, I started illustrating Metropolitan Diary, and New York, which had seemed so intimidating, gradually began to feel a little more familiar.

When my partner and I decided to move to Oregon, many people asked me what New York things I wanted to do before leaving.

One of Ms. Lee’s favorite Diary illustrations from 2022.

It was surprisingly difficult to come up with an answer. I felt as if I had done and seen everything I wanted to in the city. I suppose that was a sign it really was time to leave.

It turned out to be a busy last two months. I ate at Barney Greengrass, had my first black-and-white cookie, revisited the Metropolitan Museum and the Whitney and rode the Z train for the first time — choices that were undoubtedly shaped by having worked on so many Diary entries since 2018.

Although I’m returning to the West Coast, I will thankfully continue to illustrate the column. I’m sure I’ll miss this big, noisy, crowded city, but friends, family and the stories of Metropolitan Diary will keep me closely connected to New York.

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