Okay, I admit it – the joke’s on me. When I graduated from IU in 2008, I ventured to far off lands in pursuit of a cushy career in public accounting. It just so happens that 75% of my business school classmates had the same idea: Lincoln Park, Little IU. The Land of 10,000 Accountants. Chicago.
It’s easy to forget how far away good old Bloomington truly is from the Windy City, with the mass exodus of IU grads – let’s call them “expats” for the moment — pouring into the city every year.
“Oh, you too? That Maryland game in 2002 …”
“Yeah. I know.”
In a lot of ways, Chicago maintains a true spirit of IU goodness, the nostalgia, the heart of Indiana that every good graduate holds dear. Take, for example, drinking. The two IU bars in the city, Kirkwood and Joe’s, might be two of the most well known bars around. Take once again, the lingering basketball nostalgia of yesteryear, where everyone wants to talk with you about the days of the General. Being an IU expat to Chicago is, well, a lot like being part of an aged, co-ed version of ATO.
Interestingly, IU expats to Chicago are very eager to forget the true nature that is IU athletics recently. Reminiscing about the “good old days,” bellowing the fight song with great pride among fellow expats, one would truly begin to believe that 1987 merely depicted the year many of us were born and not a glaring reminder that our basketball team stands on the shoulders of giants. You see, it is wondrously refreshing to be among these friends in Chicago. We parade around John Barleycorn attending “alumni events,” and the dean of the business school makes an annual appearance downtown for a reception.
I can’t help but ponder, though, how greatly these expats have distanced themselves from the true nature of IU athletics, pausing only momentarily to share a fifth with some old friends at football homecoming or score courtside tickets at Assembly Hall on senior night. Where are the “thick and thin” IU fans in Chicago, the ones who immerse themselves in the minutiae of successes and failures on the field and the court, those successes and failures which defined said drinking days of old? Where are the fans who show up at Joe’s Bar on Weed Street not for a country concert, but for the IU basketball home opener against Florida Gulf Coast?
I have enjoyed my three years as an IU expat to Chicago, and I am proud that the cream and crimson colors carry a weight up here truly beyond that of any other Big 10 school, the University of Illinois included. Those not blessed to attend four home football games each season or bite our nails when Tom Pritchard rakes in his fourth foul of the game will never again truly feel anything more than being an IU expat to Chicago.
In a way, I am envious of my fellow pseudo-ATOers who drink at Kirkwood not because it is an “IU bar”, but because it is a bar that happens to wave an IU flag. But I cannot and I will not truly let go of that feeling that runs deeper to me than the love of the school that procured for me a career in business and an affinity for Indiana, Our Indiana.
If I have learned one thing during my time in Chicago, it is this: I am an IU expatriate to Chicago, but more than that, I am an alumna of Indiana University. A sickness and health alum, a fan desirous of seeing IU athletics succeed but also supportive of them in failure. I am a Chicagoan, but first, I am a Hoosier.