She said my first and last name from across the room, a room neither of us had stood inside before. A restaurant. A gallery. A friend’s dining room. Somewhere. She listed off some of the things I had done over the last year. I climbed to the top of a volcano in bare feet. I cooked curries from southern India. I pushed a baby out of my body. Things she plucked from an Internet bubble she had shimmied her way into. She didn’t hold her hand out for shaking. There wasn’t an embrace. No pat on the back. She didn’t say it’s nice to finally meet you, I’ve been following your work for a while now. Instead she stood a few feet away, arms crossed, head nodding knowns.
After I had surgery, she brought over a casserole covered in dried onions. It was her stepmother’s recipe she said. That’s a true friend my mom said. I agreed because I thought it would be rude if I didn’t agree. The soup was nice, but the delivery of the casserole seemed like an imposter looking for clues. I had to explain to my mother I didn’t know her. I just had surgery. I didn’t want to be around strangers. I can see your point my mother said.
She would befriend my friends on the internet and later enter their houses unannounced with sacks of groceries and birthday gifts. Jewelry and dresses. Things most people prefer to buy for themselves. They wouldn’t know what to say. They felt cornered by her smother.
She dreaded anyone finding out who she was, an orphan, a single woman living with her stepmom, a once rebellious teen incarcerated for killing horses. So she never once asked anyone over to her house for sandwiches.
She’d force herself into the bedrooms of others because she wanted to seem like she was a close friend, like she had hundreds of close friends, some sad, some sick, some dying. She would announce this on internet walls, praise the person who was suffering, the person who didn’t know her at all.
She wanted us to be in movies she never got around to filming, sing backup for songs she’d never sing. She wanted to be things, but hid from her want by fixating on others, transferring her own desires onto them. In her mind, we would inevitably disappoint her. We would turn against her and tell others to do the same. Her neurosis texted us, begged us for explanations for things that didn’t need explaining. It asked for forgiveness for things that didn’t need forgiving. And when we didn’t respond, when we no longer knew how to respond, she would erase her fake memory of us all with one click.
Felicity Fenton has presented her multidisciplinary work (social practice, photography, words, installation) in a number of public and private spaces around the globe. She received her MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Vermont’s Goddard College. By day, she works a designer and radio host. She lives in Portland, Oregon.