Illustration by Samantha Harrington

There is a scene I keep coming back to, and I don’t know why because I’ve never actually seen it: my wife, Carly, who celebrates her first Mother’s Day today, alone at the kitchen table at 3 a.m., under a dim yellow light, pumping milk. I think it’s so vivid in my mind because it is one of the clearest examples of her love for our two-month-old baby. I could list countless others, of course — spending hours a day with Mayla attached to her chest, unable to perform simple, necessary tasks like eating breakfast or brushing her teeth until…

Illustration by Samantha Harrington

Maybe, in a few years, we will forget all of this. Maybe, when life speeds up and obligations multiply and priorities shift, we, my wife and I, will forget the small things that made this first month of parenthood the greatest, and fastest, of our lives.

Maybe we will forget eating Jimmy John’s subs in bed at the birth center, fulfilling my wife’s nine-month vision for cold cuts after the restrictions of pregnancy had finally, gloriously, been lifted. Maybe we will forget the drive home a few hours later, in the dark of night, as I clutched the steering wheel…

Illustration by Samantha Harrington

Somehow, they sold you short. For months, maybe years if you’re around the right people often enough, they told you this would be “the greatest day of your life” and “there’s no other feeling like it in the world” and “cherish every second because it’s over like that.” They tried, with the vocabulary available to them, to describe something that was beyond words, beyond communication, beyond, even, comprehension.

They did not tell you, in the moment your daughter, Mayla Ruth, entered the world, as you watched the midwife unwrap the umbilical cord from her gray neck and she took her…

Illustration by Samantha Harrington

*Editor’s note: All student names have been changed.

Every morning for the past two months, a little after 9, the screen of my Mac became populated with several tiny squares, soon filled by the groggy faces of my fifth-grade students. Some immediately said hello, others kept their mics muted and cameras off. Some were eating cereal, others were wiping sleep out of their just-got-up eyes. Some had TVs blaring in the background. Others were silent.

In normal times, at 9 a.m. we’d be finishing up Science and moving on to Math in our bright classroom, which means only one thing…

It’s been over three years since Stories & Glories last published a story. That, we’ve concluded, is too long.

A lot changes in three years, especially in your mid-20s. Many of our writers have moved, changed jobs, gotten engaged, celebrated marriage, discovered something new about themselves. And now they are back to write about it.

The mission of Stories & Glories remains unchanged: to capture, through essays and illustrations and discussions, this strange period of growing up as twentysomethings in the 21st century, to write about the world thoughtfully and with compassion. The current pandemic and its unending ripples throughout…

One year later, in Chapel Hill.

Photo by Michael Lananna. Illustration by Daniel Wilco

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — One year later, you collapsed again.

The symmetry was both striking and beautiful: For two consecutive Aprils, you were brought to your knees by a basketball game, on the sticky floor of a college bar, trying and failing to understand what had just happened.

The first time, 364 days before the second, was born of pain. You fell as the ball fell, the light feeling of hope torn from your chest with sudden ferocity as Kris Jenkins held his follow through.

This time, though…this time was pure bliss. Two 23-year-old dudes falling to the floor, reduced…

I was late — by about 20 years — to the wizardry of Harry Potter. I came away no less spellbound.

All illustrations by Samantha Harrington

Reading Harry Potter is a wonderful paradox. This notion had been floating formlessly in my head for a few weeks, but it wasn’t until a fourth grader explained it to me that I fully understood.

“Reading the seventh book is so hard,” she said at the start of class a few weeks ago, stapling her math homework. “Because I want to find out what happens, but I don’t want it to end!”

“Yes!” I yelled, much louder than I had intended. “I know exactly what you mean.”

I was so excited someone else was experiencing this contradiction that I ignored…

Saying thanks to our generation’s president on his last day in office

Illustration by Daniel Wilco (photo: flickr, Austen Hufford)

Editor’s note: Last month, the author wrote a thank-you letter to President Obama. Here is the text of that letter.

Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

December 23, 2016

Dear President Obama,

I realize the likelihood of this letter reaching you is incredibly low, but I’ve always learned to act on moments of inspiration, so here goes my feeble attempt to capture eight-plus years of gratitude in a 500-word letter.

Indeed, the thesis of this note is simple: Thank you, for everything. Thank you for leading our country through these turbulent political seas, and…

Lessons from the playground. From a bunch of 10-year-olds.

Illustration by Samantha Harrington

Editor’s note: The author is currently a teaching intern at an elementary school.

During recess a few weeks ago, I approached a group of about 10 fifth graders and presented a proposition.

“I bet all of y’all” — teaching them proper grammar is important — “can’t catch me.”

Their response, of course, was to immediately sprint after me, so I took off running in the opposite direction.

This was a huge moment for me. It was early in the school year, and thus my chance to establish myself as the cool intern who plays tag with the kids at recess…

But we can’t stop watching.

Illustration by Daniel Wilco

As I was preparing to write this story, I texted a friend — a UNC football superfan who has followed the team since he was born — the following question:

“Can you hit me with some heartbreaking UNC football moments that I may not know about?”

The three little gray dots appeared, then disappeared, and no response came. He must really be thinking about this, I thought to myself. The reply arrived seven minutes later:

“Uh, the entirety of the program?”

That is so sad, man. That is heartbreaking. UNC football is heartbreaking.

My introduction to this anguish came on…

Robbie Harms

UNC ’15. Rumble, young man, rumble.

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