By Lani Tunzi
The friendships you develop in a community like Eagle Rock, especially as a little kid, can make you feel as if you belong to several families. I grew up hearing stories of my parents and their schoolmates, many of whom they still know and love as close friends to this day. Now that I’m navigating my own life, I’m starting to see just how strong and special those connections can be, especially when it comes to two of my childhood best friends, Francesca and Lauren.
In the friendship department, I was immensely lucky to find such powerhouse individuals at a very young age. As a kindergartner at Dahlia Heights Elementary, I met Francesca Walker during story time. Two years later, in second grade, I met my other best friend, Lauren Arriola, and amazingly enough, the two of them had shared the same first grade teacher and had already become friends. It was a perfect mix of chance and circumstance that, unbeknownst to me at the time, was going to leave me with friends I’d have for years to come.
From elementary school to the scary and multifaceted stage that is the transition to high school, the three of us stayed thick as thieves. We saw each other undergo puberty, braces, bad boyfriends and awesome haircuts. We got to support each other as we each branched out in pursuit of our varied interests, whether it was art or student government or drama or athletics.
We’ve cried, cooked, cleaned and camped together. We have event been to each other’s doctors’ appointments. We also were able to cultivate our own community of friends while still maintaining that same sibling-like dynamic we had formed as such young kids.
Now as we transition to the next phase of our lives and are college bound, things are changing more than ever — though our connections are untarnishable.
After spending more than a decade of my life with such wonderful individuals by my side, I can’t pretend that the goodbyes are not hard. Of my life as a functioning person, I’ve never known a minute of it without them nearby. Knowing that the time has come for us to part has been scary but is equally exciting for each of us.
Francesca is attending Sarah Lawrence College in New York to pursue a major in Communications and Lauren is heading north to Lewis and Clark College in Oregon for cultural anthropology and studio art. (I’m enrolled at UC Santa Barbara, which means I am home in Eagle Rock for the time being, taking classes remotely.)
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my beautiful, brilliant babes, but I’m overjoyed to know that such bright minds have taken to different corners of the country. Though we’ve divided, now we conquer, and I can’t wait to see what we each go on to accomplish.
Lani Tunzi, Class of 2020 at Eagle Rock High, graduated in June.
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