Past-Year Memoir Contest—2022

We invited you to look back at 2021 and tell a true story from your year in 21 words or fewer.

Here we present the winners and finalists:


My husband is sliding off his gender, silky as a necktie or skirt, a housebound transition eclipsing a pandemic.

Laura Schwartz
Singapore, Singapore


"Shrimp chips," my mother said in Chinese, before finally closing her eyes. I never had a chance to get her some.

David Joray
Ellicott City, Maryland

I met my neighbor’s two cows who roam his front yard. “We won’t eat them,” he said. I hadn’t even asked.

Debgay Pinucci
Williamsburg, Massachusets

Smelling everything. Just to make sure.

Jane Schumacher
Chicago, Illinois

Fast food crew; I’m new. Customers avoid my eyes like runaway brides. Or worse, rage about the wait like stood-up grooms.

Jayda Brain
Wollongong, Australia

We say goodbye, expressing our love, not wanting it to end, but too cheap to buy the extended video chat plan.

William Swanson
Longmeadow, Massachusets

Two shots in, I felt like a superhero. I flew to Ecuador, rappelled waterfalls, and climbed a volcano. Fuck you, COVID.

Sally Simon
Fleischmanns, New York

Around midnight we threw Jim into the sea. The wind blew him back over us. Bonnie laughed and took the bottle.

Patrick Bernuth
Princeton, New Jersey