From a Teen’s Perspective: Seeing Menlo Park with fresh eyes

by Dylan Lanier on November 7, 2023

I have lived almost my entire life in Menlo Park. The city has become a part of my being. Everything is familiar: I drive the same roads, eat at the same restaurants, hike the same trails.

The last time I remember being excited about Menlo Park was sixth grade. Past that age, I felt like there was nothing left to explore. I was excited to spend four years in a new location for college.

Then, this year, the reality of my impending departure became clear. And with it, I felt my perception of Menlo Park shift.

It happened gradually, nearly undetectable. My eyes lingered on the same views I had seen for years. I noticed the little things — the lush trees turning gold and red in the fall, the busy people chattering in the coffee shop, the evening light casting everything in a radiant golden halo. I reveled in it all.

I now look forward to the experiences I once labelled boring. I eat at my favorite childhood restaurants and I take the same walks that I did with my family on Saturday mornings in elementary school.

It feels like I’m seeing the world with fresh eyes because I know how drastically it will soon change. There’s a countdown clock on my time in Menlo Park, and subsequently on my childhood as well.

However, it’s not a feeling of urgency. I have an endless catalogue of wonderful memories here, and I don’t want to waste my time trying to scratch items off a bucket list (I don’t know what would be on it, anyway). Instead, I’m trying to honor and commemorate everything this town has given me.

I can’t wait to get to college. There is nothing like experiencing a new environment for the first time. As human beings, we all need to explore new places and meet new people in order to grow. But there’s also something special about having a home base that you can celebrate and anchor yourself to in times of uncertainty.

I hope to live a life that takes me all over the world. And no matter where I am or who I’m with, I will always hold Menlo Park in my heart.

So this year, as I prepare for life beyond my hometown, I am going to savor everything that I love about this wonderful place and the incredible people who share it.

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Dylan Lanier is a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School where he writes for the M-A Chronicle.

File photo of fall in Menlo Park (c) 2019

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