The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

When I’m Back in Chicago, I Feel It

Sarah Lieber
Image of the Chicago river from last summer.

In early to mid-February, the song End of Beginning by Djo went semi-viral on TikTok. Maybe it wasn’t viral and my algorithm kept showing me videos with the sound, nevertheless, I have seen over one hundred videos with the song in the background. So, it’s viral for me.

This song details the impact Chicago has on people. The band, Djo, is headlined by Joe Keery of Stranger Things, who went to Depaul University in Chicago. 

Soon, more and more videos popped up on my For You Page with the song and clips of downtown Chicago to the chorus of the song:

And when I’m back in Chicago, I feel it

Another version of me, I was in it

I wave goodbye to the end of beginning.

As I watched these videos, it made me slightly emotional. It made me homesick, despite knowing the fact I was going home for February break. For those of you who don’t know me, I am from a suburb of Chicago– Wilmette. It is around 20 miles north of the city and located on Lake Michigan, (the greatest Great Lake, and I won’t hear anything saying otherwise). While I do not live within the city limits, this TikTok trend really hit me. 

Growing up, I lived in Chicago until I was three and a half before moving to the ‘burbs. But I spent a lot of time exploring downtown, watching baseball games, and visiting local shops.

In my senior year of high school, I took a semester-long course titled Chicago History. 

Oh, and if you want a dramatic retelling of the story of the Great Chicago Fire, I do a good one– dare I say, it’s fire?

It says so much about the tenacity of the city that it was able to host the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, just twenty-two years after much of downtown burned. Over six months, over 27 million people went to the fair. Chicago is a hub of culture, each neighborhood tells its own story.

My insight into the city’s history and adoration for Chicago culminated right when I was applying to college. So how did I end up in Maine for college if I love Chicago so much?

Even though I love Chicago, I wanted to go away from home for school and far from my high school. I was ready for something new. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy at Bates, but I do miss home from time to time, as I imagine all of us do. It feels nice to drive down familiar streets (Sheridan), roam the halls of my local grocery chain (Jewel), and eat regional food (Italian beef and cheese curds). These are all things I simply cannot do while at school. I can drive to Portland with my friends who have cars, I can go to Shaw’s, and I can have Aroma Joe’s, but nothing is quite like home. Sometimes I wish I could be like Dorothy and click my heels three times.

There are instances where I want to talk about Chicago, Wilmette, or the North Shore, but people here don’t get it. It is no fault of theirs; I love how Bates brings people together from all over the world. But my friends don’t get my Chicago references. They don’t laugh when I make a joke about an Illinois politician or nod in agreement when I mention a local restaurant. 

In some ways, I am grateful to be part of the 7% Midwestern population at Bates. Not only do I love to feel special, but it means I get to teach people about a place I love so dearly!

We are all shaped so heavily by where we come from. It is just nice to talk without explaining everything sometimes–and in the summer, that is how I feel about Bates. I miss it so much and just want to be back here.

The bridge of the song repeats the phrase, You take the man out of the city, not the city out the man.

Though I am out of Chicago, the city is with me. So much of who I am is because of the city of Chicago. It took me a while to realize just how much I love where I am from. The culture of my high school was competitive, preppy, and all-around not for me. I spent so long planning my escape that I didn’t notice how lucky I was; I love where I am from! I love seeing the houses lit up with lights in the snow, driving the tree-lined streets in the warmer months, and taking a refreshing dip in the Lake. 

I love my friends from home with whom I grew up. I love being from the suburbs of Chicago. There is nothing like taking Lake Shore Drive into the city on a sunny summer day.

I didn’t realize how much I appreciated my home until I had to leave. I paved my paradise and put up a parking lot. I was ready for a change, or at least I thought I was. My town and surrounding area were such a great place to grow up. Going off to college is scary compared to the comfort of the people and places of home. 

When I’m back in Chicago, I feel it.

After being away at college, I don’t take my time at home for granted. I drive into the city as much as possible to see friends or just to take in the amazing skyline. I eat at all my favorite restaurants like Portillos, Culver’s, and Walker Brothers. I go to the Lake and drive past the Home Alone House. I play card games and do puzzles with my family. I hang out with my friends and we catch up on each other’s lives. I do all the things I miss so much when I am gone. 

Another version of me, I was in it.

As much as I like to think I am always the same version of myself, at home, I am different from who I am at Bates. Neither is better or worse than the other, just different. How I speak, what I wear, and how I spend my time are all different in Lewiston versus in Chicago. 

I wave goodbye to the end of beginning.

My home is my childhood. As I grew up I also grew out of who I was and became a new version of myself. Each time I go home I return to who I was, for brief periods, before returning to who I am right now. Every time I board my plane at O’Hare, I wave goodbye to my beginning. Leaving for college was the end of my beginning. It is sad and it is sentimental. I loved being a kid and then a teenager in Wilmette. It is truly such a special place to grow up. I will remember my life in Chicago, going downtown to my dad’s office, strolling down the River Walk or Michigan Avenue, and exploring the museums. 

You have to experience Chicago to get it. The city is magical. There is no other city that can compare. It is not New York or Los Angeles, and it doesn’t want to be. Chicago is a city that isn’t trying to be anyone but itself. And neither are the people there. They move just a little bit slower and have that Midwestern politeness that never fails to make my day. 

Chicago is more than a city. It is an experience and I am so lucky to have had it. You can take me out of Chicago, not Chicago out of me.

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  • H

    HmMar 28, 2024 at 8:30 PM

    As someone who study abroad.. I understand your words and feel each one of them

  • J

    John NashMar 7, 2024 at 3:51 PM

    Great Article Sarah!

  • E

    Eddie StraussMar 6, 2024 at 10:47 PM

    Love this so much and could not relate more