I was home in Chicago for my birthday and was treated to brunch.
I got dressed up to go to this amazing place I had never been before. I ate amazing food and had bottomless mimosas. It was great.
A lot of people know the city for its deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hotdogs, but it is so much more than that. I realized I was missing out on so much that always was available to me.
Being from a big city allows for big adventures. There are so many bars and restaurants I had not even heard of before — so many unfamiliar places on my list of venues to visit. Chicago is known for its food and for the amazing opportunities for fun. I miss it anytime I am away.
If we are talking about food, there is nothing I miss more when I am away than Chicago mild sauce. It is so hard to describe for people who have never had it. It is not barbecue sauce, and it cannot easily be replicated. It is sweet, tangy and delicious.
There is a debate in the city between two food chains — Uncle Remus and Harolds Chicken — who sell chicken with mild sauce, but it tastes different from one another. So, Chicago residents argue on which restaurants taste the best. In reality, the answer never matters. It is the savory flavor that can only be found in Chicago that matters most. It makes me homesick to think about it.
I came to Dubuque in 2017, when I started my undergrad. I have been back and forth between Dubuque to Chicago ever since. I have gone out to more places and experienced more things in Dubuque than I had in Chicago during my adult life. Now that I am officially moving back to Chicago at the age of 25, I see the city differently than I have before.
I was a kid before. Options for fun were limited before, but not anymore. I am from the west side of Chicago, and when I was younger, I did not explore downtown the way I hope to now. There are places I have never been, food I need to try and so many activities to do in my hometown. I am focusing on self-growth, and I want to be more outgoing this year.
I want to have drinks at rooftop bars and watch the city skyline sparkle in the nighttime. I want appetizers I have never sampled before. I want to dance to music with friends I have not seen in years and share laughs and make memories. I have grown so much throughout the years, mentally and emotionally. I want to feed my soul, as well as my stomach. I want good food and good times.
I am ready to be a city girl again, although I am not done with Dubuque just yet. I have a year left of school, so I know I will be back.
Transitions are hard, and connections are harder to let go of, connections I have spent my college career making, connections I will carry forever.
Rasharra Smith is a graduate student at the University of Dubuque.