Hello — if you’re reading this, you’ve survived 2017 thus far, or you’re from the future and you haven’t saved us yet, why won’t you save us?
So much of this year was garbage, and at times it was a refuse hurricane with multiple trash moments in a single day, every day, for weeks and months. It was hard!
But! Because we’re complex creatures capable of experiencing many emotions, there were moments, if only fleeting, when we felt joy or bliss. Since the year was marked with so much bad, it throws the beautiful and the light into starker relief.
Those momentary reprieves are what we’re calling Perfect Moments, when your heart sighed and replenished; these could be anything from hearing your new favorite song for the first time or putting together the tastiest meal you’ve ever had, to participating in a major social movement or reaching personal milestones.
Whatever they are, these Perfect Moments are worth remembering. Here’s how the Autostraddle universe experienced perfection in 2017. Please share your own in the comments!
Heather, Senior Editor
My entire year revolved around a big deal surgery, the road to which was paved with anxiety upon anxiety. I was so worried about what the surgeon was going to find and so worried about what he wasn’t going to find and so worried about the procedure itself and missing work and being a burden to Stacy when I was recovering and being in so much pain after it was over. When I woke up from the surgery and the doctor’s head was leaning over me, upside-down like I was in a TV show, I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared — or so cold. My bones were shivering. I kept trying to say how cold I was but my mouth wasn’t working because my teeth were chattering. When they finished wheeling me into the recovery room I saw Stacy walking toward me and she smiled so sweetly at me and I said, “C-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c” and she zipped to the nurse’s station in the middle of the room and said, “She’s so cold; please get her more blankets!” The nurse rushed over and put this hose under my covers; it blew air hot air out at me like a hair dryer and my body stopped shaking. When I woke up again and opened my eyes, Stacy was sitting right beside me reading her iPad like we were just in bed at home. I was very sore but I was warm. She reached for my hand and she said, “It’s exactly what they thought and they removed all of it. No tumors. No suspicious masses.” I’ve never felt relief like that in all my whole life. She kissed my palm, my wrist, she brushed the hair out of my face. She said, “I love you so.” I breathed the deepest breath of my life, and drifted off to sleep.
Siobhan Ball, Contributing Writer
My best friends of over a decade had moved to New York and I went out to visit them in November. My first morning there I woke up on the guest bed covered in ten week old kittens, including the little grey one who’d been skittish the night before and not wanted to play or cuddle with me. The other ones left as soon as I woke up but for some reason sleeping in the same bed had won over little grey and she marched herself up to my hand, demanding I pet her. It was really warm and the sky outside was very very blue and my favourite people who I hadn’t seen in months were camped out on the other bed and we had a whole two and half weeks to spend together.
Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor
I’m sorry that this moment is such a complete cliche, but you have to understand that I am not a baby person. My friends send me pictures of their babies and like, I like them just fine, but I kind of run out of things to say – “He’s so cute!” “She looks just like you!” “Oh, COME ON.” This year though, my niece Anna was born and I experienced a series of emotions I did not know my body was capable of. The first time I learned her name and saw her picture, my eyes literally welled up with tears. When I actually held her for the first time, she gripped onto my finger with her tiny hand and I realized that I would straight-up murder anyone or anything who dared to mildly inconvenience this child for any reason. I stood there, rocking her gently in the common room of the maternity floor, and decided it was best that I introduce myself. “Hi, I’m your aunt Stef, and I’m going to teach you all about bad decisions!” Being an aunt has been rad (exactly the level of commitment I am capable of giving a child), and I can’t wait to see what kind of weirdo she grows up to be. Please don’t tell anyone I told you I had a feeling.
Molly Priddy, Staff Writer
I experienced several perfect moments this year, but this is one that stands out to me: I’d woken up miserable, sweating and crying because of a stress dream I’d just had. At my wit’s end with these friggin’ dreams, I still had a whole day of work to go, and about an hour drive until I got to the office. It was overcast and gloomy, and I was driving around Flathead Lake, and I thought my anxiety and sadness would drown me. Then, I drove around a corner on U.S. Highway 93, and saw a split in the sky, open like a wound, with the sun’s golden rays streaming through a bruised set of clouds. It was perfect because it was beautiful, and I was listening to Laura Mvula’s orchestral album, it just felt like nature knew I’d had a nightmare and gave me a sunrise to help tide it over. Rationally, I know nature doesn’t work like that, but my head does work like that, so thank you, Nature, I really needed that and it was perfect.
Creatrix Tiara, Staff Writer
Over two glorious weeks in October I was part of the Melbourne Festival production of Taylor Mac’s 24 Decade History of Popular Music, a 24-hour Radical Faerie super queer highly glittery musical extravanganza exploring American history through era-appropriate music from 1776 till now. As a Dandy Minion, a kind of cross between stage kitten, street performer, stagehand, and flight attendant, I and my crew were there for the whole 24 hours, being a bridge between the stage and the audience in all our multi-costumed glory. It was like being in faerieland – so much energy, so much magic, so much LOVE LOVE LOVE. I wish I could be back. Things were so much better then.
Vanessa, Community Editor
This year I was lucky enough to visit Switzerland and honestly the entire week was perfect, but arguably the most perfect moment of my whole year happened at Hillary Clinton’s favorite fondue restaurant, where I took myself on a solo date on my one night in Geneva. I sat alone at a table, ordered a pot of (Hillary Clinton’s favorite!) fondue, and proceeded to eat the entire thing all by myself. I didn’t feel self conscious or shy or weird or any of the things I sometimes feel when dining alone; I felt like a fucking queen. (Please note: my body can’t actually digest dairy. This moment was still perfect.)
Raquel, Staff Writer
I moved into a new apartment that is on the third floor and faces the morning sun. I also got a perfect sweet little cat named Artie. Last weekend, I woke up to a perfect beam of clean, white morning light streaming in to warm my middle and the sweetest little ears peeking up over the covers. I stirred, Artie yawned, then she stretched and cuddled over closer to me. She is unbelievably soft, softer than a bunny and softer than any cat I’ve ever pet. As I pet her, I watched the sunbeam move across the bright, pretty covers I bought from Marimekko to make me happy, feeling cozier than I thought possible. I thought about how when I felt like it I’d pad over to the pretty new coffee shop I found a few blocks away, maybe get some arepas or tacos for breakfast, and read a good book on my kindle. I never knew a morning beholden to no one but myself and a kitten could be so perfect, but it truly is.
Cameron, Saturday Morning Cartoonist
I’m going to get real sappy here for just a second about blurry-ass boozy photo, okay? I’ve known C (left) since we found out we were birthday twins in 1996. She, the real Sagittarius of the two of us, told me right then that we were going to be friends and so we were. Around 2003, she became friends with T (center). In 2008, T would be the first woman I let myself be in love with (and subsequently, the first woman I’d learn to get over and not destroy a friendship with ¯_(ツ)_/¯). In this picture, it’s March 2017: T’s wedding weekend. Our friendship has changed shape over the years and stretched to cover three different states. We hadn’t seen each other in almost a year. We hadn’t talked that much day to day leading up to this weekend. But the three of us have ten years* knowing every version of ourselves we’ve ever been— ten years* of choosing to continue being part of it, ten years* of warts and all. We got together and it was like coming home. It was effortless, it was perfect, and the wedding was fucking beautiful.
*ok 20-some years in C’s case, sue me
Cee, Tech Director
The moment when it got totally dark in the middle of the clear sunny day in a vineyard in rural Oregon and I took my eclipse glasses off and looked at the sun with my bare eyes and just started screaming because it was gone and the black hole where it used to be was now glowing. While I knew exactly what was going to happen, and I’d read so much about it, I was not prepared for the emotional and physical reaction to seeing it. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to see more.
Reneice, Staff Writer
Well I came in here all ready to talk about the eclipse as my moment of perfection only to see that Cee just beat me to it. So instead, I will tell you about the pancake I ate at brunch last Saturday. I was in San Diego for the weekend celebrating my friend’s birthday and the weekend involved lots of pasta (we stayed in little italy), catching up about love and life, late night twerking to our black girl magic playlists, and watching airplanes skim the sky above our airb&b. The weekend was pretty perfect on its own, but Saturday. Saturday morning, we decided to pregame for brunch with gummy edibles. We each unwrapped our little squishy fruit flavored high inducing friends and took them on empty stomachs before heading out.
Naturally by the time we made it to brunch, got seated, and ordered our food we were feeling reaaaaallly good. My version of expressing this was laying in the booth, kicking my leg into the air and saying “take my picture!” without a single care of who might be watching and wondering what the hell I was going through. A few minutes after we ordered though, worry started to settle in. The lack of food was causing the gummies to digest faster than usual and we could feel ourselves approaching the cliff of “too high to be okay without panicking in public”. Just as I was about to tip over the edge, our waiter showed up at the most perfect time with the most perfect pancake I had ever seen in my life in his hand. There was a candle it, because one of us was smart enough to remember to tip him off that we were celebrating a birthday.
So there he was with a giant pancake slathered with cinnamon butter and drizzled with cream cheese and caramel sauce approaching the table of four very high, very hungry women dressed up like a present. I swear a chorus of angels sang when he put the plate down. He very proudly told us that the pancake was his own creation “ a cinnamon roll pancake but with sweet potato batter instead of the standard buttermilk, kind of like candied yams in pancake form.” I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you right now that there is no more perfect thing for this black woman to satiate the most perilous case of the munchies i’ve ever had than a PANCAKE THAT TASTES LIKE CANDIED YAMS. It. Was. Perfect. Sweet, salty, insanely moist yet not at all mushy, and most importantly, large enough that all of us got to eat some and feel satisfied that we would make it sanely and safely to the arrival of our entrees. I still remember the exact feeling that washed over me when I put the first bite of pancake in my mouth. Just pure, warm, cinnamon-y bliss. It was lit.
Mey, Trans Editor
I know this has been the year from hell, but honestly, it’s given me a lot of perfect moments. Many of them came in the form of texts sent from dear friends saying the exact right thing that not even I knew I needed to hear. Other times it was running through the flooded streets of Chicago in the worst rain storm I’ve ever seen with my friend Grecia trying to get in our uber or the look on Fia’s face when I explained why I love Santa Muerte in a magic shop in Minneapolis or even Vi holding my hand while we were in the theater watching It Comes at Night so that instead of being scared alone, we’d be two drunk latinxs freaking out in a theater together. It came in the form of holding my girlfriends at a Hayley Kiyoko concert. It came in the form of telling my girlfriends I love them and them saying it back. It even came in a form as simple as a picture of my friend’s dog wearing a Bucky mask while he’s cuddling with the Bucky Bear Doll I gave to that friend as a gift.
But there’s one that stands above all the others. I came out as trans a decade after I would’ve had mine, so I thought that I’d never go through this traditional Latina rite of passage. But I have perfect friends that love me too much and Riese had the idea to throw me a quincenaera at A-Camp on the “It’s Your Birthday Day.” The night was already perfect when they called me up to get a sash and crown and cake at dinner while a quince court made up of most of my best friends stood beside me. But the truly perfect moment came when I walked into the camp dance wearing my Heathers inspired outfit and I was told that Heather would be dancing with me for my first dance. This is normally an honor that goes to your father, but there’s no one on earth I would pick above Heather to dance with me. She looked so good in her shirt and purple tie. She’s made me a better person and continues to make me better all the time. I was sobbing and everything was perfect. And then it got better. My best friend Cecelia was on stage with my best musician friend Jenny Owen Youngs, and the two of them started playing and singing the perfect Disney Princess song, “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. I could barely dance I was crying so hard. This was a moment so perfect it was beyond even what I had thought of in my wildest dreams. I love my friends so much, I love my community so much and I love my family so much. And in that moment, I had no doubt at all that all of them loved me just as much, or even more.
Valerie Anne, Contributing Writer/Social Media Co-Editor
Despite this year being a literal garbage fire in the grand scheme of things, I was lucky enough to have so many wonderful moments, but I think for this I’ll have to pick the night I met Chyler Leigh.
One night in April my friend Nic and I made our way to an East of Eli concert. I would be lying if I said I was going to the show to see East of Eli (though I have since come to enjoy their music), but it’s Nathan West’s band, and he’s married to Chyler Leigh, and she was going to be at the concert since she’s featured on a few of their songs. The tickets were cheap and the venue was close and the chance to see Lexie Grey/Alex Danvers in real life was too tempting to pass up. She ended up missing the first concert, but the venue was so small that I got to chat with Nathan West after the show and he was a downright delight. Since Chyler didn’t show, Nathan said anyone who wanted to come to their next show a few nights later could go for free, and go we did. For a while it looked like Chyler might not make it; her plane was delayed and delayed and delayed and Nathan had us tracking her flight between songs and before we knew it, the concert was over and Chyler still wasn’t there. We had fun though, and were about ready to call it a night, but Nathan said that Chyler was still hell-bent on showing up, delays be damned. So a decent number of us went into the bar attached to the venue and waited around for an hour or two until sure enough, Chyler Leigh showed up.
They performed a few songs in the bar and it was cute and sweet and lovely. Chyler set up an impromptu meet-and-greet station and vowed to hug every single person who wanted a hug, and that magical creature followed through. At about 3am the dwindling crowd was kicked out of the bar, so Chyler took it to the streets…literally. So it was there, outside in the drizzle, on the sidewalk outside of a bar in Brooklyn, at 4 in the morning, that I met Chyler Leigh. She wrapped her long arms around me and squeezed me tight, and then looked me in the eyes with earnesty and a palpable kindness as I thanked her for her portrayal of Alex Danvers and for being such a vocal ally for the LGBTQ+ community. Her eyes twinkled as she smiled at me and said it was her pleasure and that it means a tremendous amount to her. Tremendous! That was the word she used. Her eyes didn’t leave mine for a second, and after our short conversation, she pulled me closer and put her arm around me and smiled a smile that didn’t betray an ounce of the exhaustion she had to be feeling. (Unlike me; I’m carrying every hour I didn’t sleep in bags under my eyes.) The combination of the fun I had with friends in those hours between the concert and meeting Chyler, and the magical moment itself, that night in NYC is definitely a highlight of this year/my life/all eternity.
Jenna, Contributing Writer
My wife Stephanie has been a constant fixture in all of my perfect moments over the past dozen or so years. From huge, life-changing twists to lazy, quiet mornings spent curled around each other, Steph makes everything better. This summer, while on vacation in Newfoundland, we spent a few days on a remote island called Fogo. We hiked up and down bluffs, across fields, and right up to the edge of the world where it meets the cold Atlantic. Fogo isn’t all that far from home, but somehow, with the wind whistling past us as we gazed out at an iceberg, I felt like we were on another planet.
Alexis, Staff Writer
My perfect moment was my birthday this year. I haven’t been excited for my birthday since I was a kid and since I ended up in the hospital on my birthday last year, I was keeping my expectations low as hell. If I wasn’t sick, I was counting it as win. I didn’t expect a perfect moment, but it came when my best friend and sister took me to Applebee’s for my birthday. We went before lunch rush and ordered appetizers and drinks and even though I have a big phobia of eating in public, I felt completely at home with them. There’s one moment when after they talked about the boys they liked and after a pause, they both looked at me and said, “We’re going to get you contenders too.” and I smiled and they made a joke and I felt really loved in that moment. I always need to check my surroundings but in this moment, I could only focus on the mozzarella sticks and how I finally filling my hunger, my sister as she talked about her friends and furrowed her brow at her phone, and my best friend who taped me while I tipsily explained how much I loved them and they smiled and told me they loved me too.
Natalie, Staff Writer
In post-Civil War America, newly-emancipated black folks began a tradition of giving their sons and daughters honorifics as first names. It was a small act of resistance: if white society insisted on disrespecting them by calling them by their first name (or worse), instead of Mr./Ms./Mrs., they were going to force them to address by the honorific. My great-grandmother was among those who chose to resist in the Jim Crow South, giving her daughter, my grandmother, a regal name: Queen Elisabeth.
I thought about this as I stepped foot on the grounds where my brother got married this spring–the first of so many perfect moments that day. My brother got married in a castle…an actual castle. For just one day, we lived the regality that my great-grandmother must have imagined. We were, indeed, our ancestors’ wildest dreams.
Later that night, as the castle’s ballroom played host to the celebration of this new union, I thought of my dad and how he used to goad my siblings and I into doing him favors. When we delivered whatever he’d asked for, he’d smile brightly, offer his thanks and say, “one day, I’m gonna dance at your wedding.” He died before he could watch his namesake walk down the aisle, but in his absence, I danced in his place. My melancholy gave way to pure joy as I danced the night away with the new generation of my family.
Alaina, Staff Writer
This summer I moved from an apartment that was almost an hour commute away from my school and that had some major maintenance crisis at least twice a month. I moved into the most perfect new place – fifteen minute commute, more space, quiet complex – at the beginning of August. The move was weird and almost didn’t happen and then my apartment got switched at the last minute, but then all of a sudden, everything worked together, like when you’re close to finishing a puzzle and then all of a sudden you’re done, and I was sitting in this brand new apartment and all of my cats were there and I didn’t have any wifi to distract me yet, so I just breathed in this new calmness about the start of something new and good.
Laneia, Executive Editor
I’ve been begging my parents for the last few years to please, PLEASE go over to what used to be my grandparents’ house and ask the new owners if they’d PLEASE give us the old glass door knobs from the french doors upstairs. My grandmother had found them years before that house had been built or even dreamed of. She’d cleaned and restored them, and tucked them into a box — one that I’d regularly come across when I was little and nosing through her antiques. When my grandparents decided to move further out into the country and build something new, she had the upstairs doors leading to her bedroom made especially for those glass door knobs. The whole damn house had been designed around the door knobs! And while I realize that knobs are technically part of the home and therefore shouldn’t really be removed after it’s been sold, I still couldn’t believe no one had thought to get those stupid knobs before they turned the house over to someone else! But my mother refused to ask, and I couldn’t very well do it because they didn’t know me from Adam. Now the house has been sold again and once again, I asked if someone could please PLEASE go over there and just ask these newer new owners if they’d PLEASE let me have those damn knobs. My mother said no, that I really needed to move on.
Then our annual box of holiday pajamas from her arrived last week. She made me facetime her while I opened it. I pulled out four pairs of orange and white checkerboard pajama pants (go Vols) to find a layer of folded tissue paper. “What’s under the pants!” she said. I made a cheesy I-don’t-know face, because I didn’t know, and lifted the paper. There were the glass door knobs, safely bundled in tissue paper and soft new t-shirts. I said “Is this really them? MAMA IS THIS REALLY THEM.” and she said “Yep!” and I openly wept in front of both kids and all the pets.
My stepdad had gone over there, and he’d asked the man if he could please have those old glass door knobs because here, he’d bought some replacement glass door knobs, and he’d even put them on for him. And the old man had said yes, in fact he’d love to have knobs that didn’t fall off in his hands when he tried to open the door.
Ok so maybe “restored” is generous. One of them does fall off in your hand if you try to use it, that’s true.
You know how when you misplace something valuable, and you look everywhere it could possibly be, and there’s one more place it might be, but you can’t bring yourself to look because if you do and it isn’t there, you’ll have to admit to yourself that it’s truly gone forever, and so you carry this weight of a most-likely-lost-forever thing in your heart for a super long time while it slowly turns a small part of your heart into a dank void of regret and melancholy? That’s kinda what I’d been doing. Functional or not, seeing those door knobs and holding them in my hands again felt like that weight had been lifted. I just took a deep breath and said thank you.