I moved to NYC in 2001 and lived in a Manhattan apartment with my brother and one of his classmates. I was attending graduate school at Parsons that fall and worked weekends in my landlord’s antique store.

One hot Saturday, I kept the front door open to keep the air flowing and encourage customers to come in. A cat wondered in. She was skittish and missing half of its whiskers. When some customers showed an interest in her, the cat bolted out of the store and into a parking garage where they could not follow her. After they left, the cat eventually returned. I was worried that the cat would knock one of the antiques over, but she let me pick her up and once I put her in my lap in my chair behind the desk, she stayed there for the rest of the day.

Come closing time, I figured I could take the cat home with me or leave her out on the sidewalk. She seemed traumatized, but definitely not a street cat. She dug her claws in whenever a bus passed by, so I walked the 10+ blocks home. My roommate named her Rita, after Laura Harring’s character in the David Lynch film, Mulholland Drive.

Rita stayed with me for about four years and moved with me to Brooklyn. When my allergies became too much for me to keep her, a friend in Queens volunteered to take her.

I drew this image in 2003 looking across my Manhattan living room from a futon couch. In the back is my old computer setup. In the lower right corner is a table and chair I still have today.