Ten years ago, after much begging, cajoling, pouting, and crying, my parents let me go away for the weekend with my friends to Michigan. We had just graduated high school and were desperate to go be off on our own, unable to wait the two months until we went off to our various colleges to try living without our parents.

We were a group of boys and girls then, and this co-ed sleepover aspect was doubtless a big part of what made my parents so apprehensive about giving me permission to go. Ultimately, they realized that 12 boys and girls sleeping in sleeping bags in one communal living room was about the worst place for teenage sex, so they finally caved.

I got a horrible sunburn; the worst I’ve ever had. My then-crush threw my nice new sunglasses in the lake and was mad at me for being mad at him when we couldn’t find them. Princess’s brother had bought us pre-mixed strawberry daquiris in freezer pouches, and when we split the six pouches between the 12 of us, Murphy took two sips and asked, “Am I drunk yet?” It was an awesome time, an exhilarating freedom that I can still vividly remember a decade later.

Three years ago, the core group of girls from that trip decided to revive the tradition, and ever since we’ve had a girls weekend in Michigan every year. Horty flies out from Seattle, bless her heart, Murphy comes in from New York, and the rest of us, who are all based in Chicago, pile into cars with loads of beach crap and games and wine and tequila and head to Murphy’s grandparents house in Michigan.

So it was that this weekend I piled myself into Princess’s little Subaru and drove to the Third Annual Girls Weekend in Michigan. We drank too much wine, cooed over Horty’s newly-pregnant belly, skewered marshmallows on sticks and roasted them, and marveled that we’ve managed to keep alive, through six different colleges, three different grad schools, six totally divergent career paths, three marriages, two babies (one in utero) and two cats, this tradition of getting together every year for a weekend.  I’m amazed and blessed to know such an interesting, smart, funny group of women, and we’re all lucky to be able to make this a priority, to preserve these friendships that would be so easy to let fall by the wayside.

Our 10-year high school reunion is scheduled for some time this fall. They’ll rent out a bar, we’ll pay some absurd amount for open bar cocktails and a few hours of awkward chitchat with the people we knew back when- but for me, the real reunion, the one that matters- that happened this weekend.