My role as a cat lady began when I was around 3 years old. My childhood was spent living in Ghana with my GrandMama. Mama, my first introduction to the power of women, had a cat named Josephine. Striped with orange, white and black, Josephine had three legs and bright green eyes. I loved Josephine! My earliest memories of her are of playing in Mama’s garden in Accra. I was always a small child, so Josephine and I were about the same size. This was the first time I truly connected with a feline energy.
In 2014, my mother, Patience, passed away after a battle with Lupus. She was on the mend after undergoing surgery, so to lose her so suddenly was and still is very painful. Growing up, my mother wasn’t too fond of cats because of a film she saw when she was younger. Although she grew up with them in Ghana, when she immigrated to the States at the age of 13 she watched a film about cats eating humans?! I don’t know too much about the film, but she compared it to The Birds. Terrifying!
A year or so after my mother passed I began dreaming of her again. I dreamt I was in my childhood neighborhood, Cambria Heights, Queens, and was being followed by a black cat. When I finally turned around, I caught a glimpse of her features. Petite, big brown eyes — she reminded me of my mother. I turned to her and said “Mommy?” and she ran off, towards our house. It was then I decided, despite my mother’s fear of them, I needed a cat companion. The dream reassured me and offered a sign of my mother’s approval.
I adopted Figgaro in 2015, a few months after losing my mother. At the time, I had reached an artistic block and was finding difficulty getting back into my arts practice. I had also recently moved to Flatbush and felt a sense of independence, curiosity and anxiety. I needed a companion. A being that embodied the self-sufficiency and confidence I needed to carry me through the next few months and into my divine femininity.
Fortunately, one of my favorite jewelry boutiques, CatBird–celebrating their 10th Anniversary—held an adoption event partnered with ASPCA. I don’t consider myself to be a publically emotional person #thugtears , but when Figgaro and I locked eyes for the first time I lost it. He’s so handsome. Long whiskers, baby pink nose, thick white eyelashes, and bright green eyes. Such a pure connection. It was love at first sight.Figgy, as I affectionately call him, has made me more responsible in the smallest of ways. He reminds me to eat breakfast, forces me into a routine and shows me self-care is most important. Not only am I responsible for myself, but I am responsible for another being. There is still a lot to learn from each other. Growing up, the most experience I had feeding a pet was pouring golden flakes into a fish bowl.
He isn’t much of a talker. More of a silent observer, which is nice. Figgy doesn’t really meow or purr. He whines mostly – so cute! When he does purr it is nasally, like his nose is stuffed. He’s not really fussy, though he is a diva. Despite the many areas reserved for him to lounge in the house, he mostly enjoys sleeping on piles of clothes at the foot of my bed or inside my bookbag or purse. I even caught him sneaking sips of my wine once! Figgy has all the accruements of a fashionista—a denim jacket, his basketball jersey, customized collars, a leather biker’s hat, and a few Halloween costumes. He enjoys dressings up so sometimes I’ll cut some fabric from my clothes so we can match! A cat after my own heart. Figgy also used to enjoy bike rides and visits to Prospect Park, but unfortunately, my bike was stolen last December when I was away in Ghana, so Figgy and I cannot ride anymore. As an alternative, I bought a wheeled carrier to take him on walks.
As an emerging artist and designer, I enjoy creating worlds for myself. Figgy is my apprentice. Waysted Studio emerged at a time where I was searching for myself. I create these body adornments to share my love, strength and spirit. Something I’ve learned to do from Figgaro.
I’m big on animation and watch cartoons and anime while I work, Space Dandy, Adventure Time and Steven Universe to name a few. One of our favorite shows is Bee and Puppycat, about a cheerful yet naive woman in her twenties navigating young adulthood and Puppycat a mysterious catlike creature who ends up saving her from herself. It’s definitely not as deep as it sounds, but we enjoy it.