A few weeks ago my friend Sarah and I drove to Chicago, a trip we’re both familiar with, as it’s becoming our thing. We always have the best time when we’re there– the weather is perfect, the pace is slow and we do as we please.

The first time we went, it was just the two of us. Sarah had just recently started dating my best friend, Gerrid, so we used the desire to get to know each other as an excuse to take a trip. Genius, I know. 

We took pictures at the Sears Tower and watched the Twins go extra innings against the White Sox. We ate ice cream cones on the beach and saw John Mayer in concert. The perfect weekend, one we still talk about today.

The second time around, we packed eight girls into two cars, just because. It was the middle of August and our weekend was spent dressing up and getting lost on Michigan Ave, shopping bags in tow. 

Fast forward a few years and many memories later and we made the trip again, just the two of us.

We walked through Millennium Park sipping vanilla lattes as we talked about absolutely everything. We discussed celebrity gossip, politics, how we’ll raise our children to be respectful and how much we love our church. We discussed love and loss, shin splints and what grace means to us. We ate hot dogs on Navy Pier and strolled the shoreline laughing about Sarah’s dance moves.

Each trip holds its own memories and has its own inside jokes, but something was different this time around. It could have been the fact that we’ve been there twice before so we knew a thing or two about the city, the context of our conversations, or because we had three years of friendship under our belt.

A couple weeks after we got back from Chicago, I stood at Gerrid and Sarah’s wedding, watching their relationship come full circle. When Sarah and I had gone on our first trip, she had just started dating G, we were 23, barely knew each other and wore cocktail dresses to a John Mayer concert for crying-out-loud. Clearly clueless on a lot of world issues. 

As we stood at the alter, the pastor joked that they had a small bridal party, eight bridesmaids and eight groomsmen. Pastor Greg went on to talk about how bridal parties are made up of the bride and groom’s “2AM people” – people they can call in the middle of the night, whether it’s to help with a flat tire or provide guidance in their marriage.

Whether it’s my 2AM people, my 8PM people, friends I’ve had since I was four, or the ones I’ve made this year, the best kind of people are always the friends that feel more like family.

Jobs change, relationships end and sometimes the place we call home isn’t always the same, but honestly, none of that really matters when the people do.

Don’t wait for the next birthday party or holiday to get your friends together. Pick a weekend, pack your bags and spend some time with the important people in your life. Who knows, maybe you’ll solve the world’s problems while sipping vanilla lattes or maybe, if you’re really lucky, you’ll go from friends to family.