Originally, our plan was to go on an African safari. We’d leave our husbands and children behind, experiencing Africa’s magic together for a few weeks. Just the girls.
 Ha ha ha!
 That was the idea we came up with on our 30th birthdays, however. Long before we had families and mortgages and careers. Things were different now, and Africa would have to wait. Probably forever.
 Instead, we rented a house in Galena, Ill. Galena was cheap, nice and driving distance from Chicago. I protested this destination choice, but by a 4-2 vote, Galena won out. The majority argued that it’s who you’re with, not where you go, that matters.
 For weeks, I pouted about this. I wanted our celebration to be someplace lively. We’re 40! The new 20! Galena is a place where old ladies shop for crafts and homemade fudge! Not a place you go to celebrate something or party like rock stars! We may be 40, but we are still youthful, attractive, interesting, fun women! Right?
 Maybe not so much anymore.
 First, a little primer on our party of six. We have been close friends since high school and together during life’s milestones. I wouldn’t say we’re close in a constantly-in-touch way, but in an old friend, know-your-family, watched-you-grow-up way. I truly love these women, even though we’re all pretty different now.
 I wonder, sometimes, if we would all still be friends if we just met today.
 That made this birthday trip something of a social experiment. Would we act young or old?
 My hope was that we’d party like it was 1999. That’s why I insisted we drag along a karaoke machine with CDs of 80s tunes (hey, do I know how to have fun or what?). We brought enough alcohol to help us easily travel back to 1985.
 The first activity, which contained neither booze nor Bon Jovi, proved to be the highlight of the weekend (at least, for me) – a canoeing trip down the Galena River.
 Me and my friend Wendy paddled like Olympians and still couldn’t catch up with our barely-paddling pals. We kept crashing into trees and the river’s banks, screaming “Paddle forward! No, backward!” at each other. The yelling turned to laughter, and at times, I laughed so hard I could barely breathe. It was just like old times for Wendy and me.
 “If we go home right now, it was worth it,” Wendy said between remnant chuckles of our two-hour laugh-a-thon. I whole-heartedly agreed.
 The next two days and nights were largely spent in our rented house. Our first night was kind of depressing. After a nice dinner out, we came back – bellies full – and laid around. We looked through old photos and read/discussed gossip magazines. We drank beer, but were yawning at 10:30 p.m.
 Lest we forget, this was not just a 40th birthday celebration, but a rare break from work and child-rearing.
 We were acting our age okay maybe older.
 The next morning, we divided up and each did our own thing. The shoppers shopped. The nappers napped. The athletes worked out. The pampered made spa appointments.
 We reunited for our one big-ticket adventure – a hot air balloon ride – but it was cancelled due to weather. So we ended up doing the activity that made us all friends in the first place: drinking games.
 It’s been a while since any of us have chugged beer like that, but it was a riot. Making smart-ass remarks to each other, taking pictures of ourselves, buzzed laughter … we were 18 again.
 Following a dip in our outdoor hot tub and entirely too much taco dip, I convinced a few people to give karaoke a try (“Hit me with your best shot!”). I was still awake at 2 a.m. (woo!), but was watching “Cheaters” on TV while everyone fell asleep around me.
 It ended up being a pretty fun weekend, and we acted young and old. I guess that was bound to happen. But it was the acting out of old times – the mere fact that there were such times – that got me down.
 I mean, we are youthful, attractive, interesting, fun women! Right?
 As for our destination choice, I hate to admit this, but my old pals were right: it’s the people, not the place.
 So, girls, Galena in 2018?