The Friend Reunion

Featured image: Riccardo Tinelli/Trunk Archive
As seen in the pages of Sweet July Magazine. Get the Reunion Issue here!

Friendships in adulthood require intention, which is especially hard when distance is a factor. And even when you live in the same city, life still gets busy. Enter: The Friendship Reunion. Here’s your cue to take that girls’ trip out of the shared notes tab and into the execution phase.

Like many, Maira Rosas-Lee has a new adult friend group that is scattered across the country. She had grown close with a colleague who invited her on a vacation with a group of about 12 women. “They meet up every summer at this cabin in Wisconsin and just spend the weekend hanging out, playing games, and relaxing,” says Rosas-Lee. It’s not easy getting a group this large to gather yearly. Rosas-Lee herself is impressed that they’ve been able to keep it going for this long—some seven years. And it inspired her to embrace the friend reunion across her other relationships.

Oftentimes, especially in adult friendships, the conversation dies in the “We should,” stage. “We should have coffee more often.” “We should meet up at my place twice a year.” “We should go on vacation every summer.” But the best of intentions still need initiative. For larger friend group vacations, maybe the solution is a planning committee—a group of people who take care of all the preparations. For duos or smaller groups, a shared Google calendar or spreadsheet can help divide duties and stay accountable. Prioritizing organization and being clear on who is doing what can help reduce any resentment.

Sometimes keeping things simple is key. A mom to a young child, Rosas-Lee doesn’t have the capacity to put together trips as elaborate as the yearly one she attended with her co-worker’s 12-person clan. She wanted to organize something smaller—and shorter. With an old college friend, Rosas-Lee decided to plan a reunion for their undergraduate research cohort. “We figured it would be nice to see where everyone is at,” says Rosas-Lee. That ended up being a night out in the city—most of the group still lives in Minneapolis—rather than a whole vacation.

For Taylor Walker, an independent filmmaker, an ideal yearly reunion involves a fixed location and a fixed date. Walker met one of her closest friends in 2018 while they were both in flight attendant training together. Because her friend lives in Portland, Oregon, and Walker lives in Houston, they wanted to find a way to keep their friendship alive despite the distance. They decided the best way was to meet up every year for Halloween in New Orleans. They usually stay in hotels near the French Quarter and spend the weekend dressing up in costumes, eating, and trying new things. “It helps to plan around a holiday or a specific event,” says Walker. “One that’s not necessarily Christmas or Thanksgiving, but a holiday like Halloween or even some kind of anniversary that you and your friends have. That way, it’s easier to be consistent and actually do it every year.”

Photo: Riccardo Tinelli/Trunk Archive

Keeping the location consistent also helps you get well-acclimated with one specific place, and Walker feels it’s helpful to build a familiarity with the city. “You know the good places to stay and eat,” she says. “You can feel confident walking around. You learn more about where you are. So then, it’s not just a reunion with your friend, but a kind of reunion with the city.”

When it came down to figuring out the best place to reunite with her Atlanta friend group who’ve been inseparable for two decades, Ashlei White also chose New Orleans. “We’re in our thirties now and we realized all five of us have not traveled together,” says White. They rectified that by combining one of their friend’s bachelorette parties with a girls’ trip to Essence Fest 2023 in New Orleans. The trip, White says, was a revelation. “We decided we do need to start doing these more. We’re getting older, people are starting their families and we’re starting to go down our personal paths of life. But we don’t want to miss out on connecting with each other on a regular basis, both in town and getting out of town to relax.”

Group vacations might sound overwhelming, but remember that you can start small and customize your trip to what works best. It can do wonders for your friendships—and for yourself. Like Rosas-Lee says, “For women, it’s really hard to make friends. It’s hard to find time, and get organized to do all this stuff. But that trip was good for my mental health, and for my heart.”

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