Lost and Found | Teen Ink

Lost and Found MAG

August 5, 2008
By Anonymous

I liked being a mess. The desk that should have been clear so I could do my homework was always besieged with bowls of cereal and spoiled milk, old magazines, and Post-it notes I had forgotten to remember. My floor was a vacuum in itself, eating anything entering my room. It consumed sweaters, stuffed animals, socks, shoes. When I occasionally did laundry, I would dig up clothes I couldn't even recall purchasing. My shelves overflowed with containers of little odds and ends: hair bands, chapstick, matches, loose mints, coins, earring backings. I couldn't always see these things, but I knew that they were safe, nestled somewhere on a shelf. Like old friends in a phone book, I figured that someday I would find all the loose strings and tie them together.

One lonely day in August when all of my friends had yet to return from camp in Maine, visiting family in Florida, or some community-service trip in Mexico, something inside me began to itch. I tried taking a shower, scrubbing myself with every bodywash and bar of soap I could find. I brushed my hair and my teeth, but didn't feel any cleaner. I checked my e-mail, which was empty. I checked the DVR to see if any new shows had been recorded, but I had already seen everything.

I went downstairs and found my brother playing video games, my mom on the phone, and my dad in his office – everyone in their right place. I told my mom that something didn't feel right, and she suggested that for once I should clean my room. The thought itself made me nauseous. I went upstairs to sulk, feeling so overwhelmed that I might as well have been floundering without a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

When I opened the door to my bedroom, everything was in its usual cluttered arrangement. A plate of half-eaten pancakes sat on my desk, soggy with syrup from the morning. My bikini hung lifelessly from my doorknob, dripping pool water. My heavy covers lay crumpled and cold across my bed, molded by the twists and turns of the previous night. Piles of dirty clothes sat unsorted, collecting dust.

I stood in the middle of the cluttered room, breathing in the filthy air that I had become so used to. In the silence of that moment, I began to hear the clock ticking. I became aware of the moldy smell. I noticed that a spider had spun a shimmering line from my lamp to the top of my mirror. I shivered in disgust. I remembered that winter how my stuffed animal, Vanilla, had fallen behind my dresser and I hadn't noticed until I caught the repulsive scent of her fur burning against the heater, until it was too late and she was permanently covered in brown spots.

I suddenly felt sympathy for everything in my room that I had buried, never to be seen again. Lost items I had blocked out for years made their way back into my consciousness: my favorite yellow tank top, the picture of my mom and me on that boat in Jamaica, my baseball card collection.

I had an urge to dive under my bed and uncover everything lurking in the murky depths of dust, and to climb up into the highest corners of my closet and rescue items that had been mingling with the spiders. The innocent piles were growing higher and higher until they were looming monsters before my eyes. They were threatening to swallow me whole. I had to get rid of them. And so I started to clean.

In a box buried under old textbooks, I found a letter that my Poppy had written me at camp. I hadn't thought of him since his funeral. I suddenly remembered the thrill of running naked through cold sprinklers with my cousins, the spicy smell of barbecue mixing with the salty air at his beach house, and the distinct feel of his soft sweater rubbing warmly against my cheek each time he enveloped me in a hug. I remembered my dad rocking me to sleep the night Poppy died, and how the tears wouldn't stop.

I sat with his picture, blocking out the rest of the mess around me. I was in the middle of a storm, but I sat there and studied him until I had memorized every line in his face. Tears began to roll down my cheeks again, and the relief was like the sound of heavy rain pounding on a roof at the end of a drought.

In the drawer next to my bed, I found a friendship bracelet my childhood best friend, Aubrey, had given to me before she moved to California. I traced the green and purple pattern with my thumb, realizing that I hadn't spoken to her in years. The next day I called her, and we talked all night, laughing about memories like dressing up as the Spice Girls for Halloween. She reminded me of the time we built a family of snowmen in my backyard and had a funeral for them when they'd melted. I had lost so many precious childhood memories over time, letting them slip away into the tide like grains of sand. It was the kind of conversation you never want to end because for each moment we talked, it felt like a bucket collecting droplets of water from a leak.

Under my bed I even found that picture of my mom and me in Jamaica. I had forgotten how turquoise the water had looked from our ship, but what really caught my attention, though, was my image. I had buck teeth, short hair, and pimples covering my face. I stared at that girl, barely able to recognize this person who had drowned in the mess of my room so many years before. I decided to completely re­organize and revamp my room so that all the books, belts, and baskets were in their right place. It was like finding the missing pieces of the puzzle.

The finishing touch was framing that photo and hanging it high up on my wall. After all, it was me I had been searching for.

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This article has 427 comments.

KFT22 GOLD said...
on Aug. 22 2014 at 3:57 pm
KFT22 GOLD, Darien, Connecticut
16 articles 0 photos 31 comments
Love how you closed it. Really nice job--a relatable and truthful piece.

on Feb. 24 2014 at 12:34 pm
monster...rns, KINGS MOUNTAIN, North Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
eat eat eat

rns- ral nice subject

on Feb. 21 2014 at 9:47 am
lauren1nicole BRONZE, Yorktown, Virginia
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I could connect well with your story, even though my room is clean most days instead of dirty. My family has the same problem that you realized in the story. All the happy and sad memories that make you who you are get buried in a cluttered room. I personally feel like I'm drowning when surrounded by filth, and having a certain place for all those trinkets in my bedroom allows me to wake up excited for the day ahead.

on Feb. 11 2014 at 3:15 pm
Aerica Firman BRONZE, Defiance, Ohio
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments
I remember when my room was the messiest in my house.  It was always covered with my cheer bag, dance shoes, and clothes from the previous day and week.  This is a great writing because I can totally be referred to this article.  My whole life is like yours.  I can never stay organized no matter what the day is.  Whether it is a clean floor, or a messy locker, I can’t stay organized to save me life.  It is sometimes difficult though when I don’t know where anything is because some stuff that I lose I end up needing in the future.

on Feb. 8 2014 at 6:00 pm
CelebrateDifferences, Long Island, New York
0 articles 0 photos 71 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Gods of Olympus.” Piper stared at Leo. “What happened to you?”
His hair was greased back. He had welding goggles on his forehead, a lipstick mark on his cheek, tattoos all over his arms, and a T-shirt that read HOT STUFF, BAD BOY, and TEAM LEO.
“Long story,” he said.”

The qoute "You never know what you have until... you clean your room" is the embody of this memoir. 

Juanxx9 said...
on Feb. 5 2014 at 1:17 pm
Cool story

Sunshine said...
on Nov. 23 2013 at 11:01 pm
I could connect!

on Oct. 28 2013 at 3:13 pm
this is awosome

Senny523 said...
on Oct. 9 2013 at 1:48 pm
Wow! That was awesome

Samantha said...
on Oct. 9 2013 at 1:47 pm
Wow, is that how dirty your room was?

Bobbed said...
on Oct. 8 2013 at 1:53 pm
I liked it was the best one that they had up today.

Juuulia said...
on Oct. 7 2013 at 4:30 pm
Juuulia, Hinsdale, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'm little but I'm old"
-Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Wow! This is great! It's sort of like Shel Silverstein's Sylvia Stout only a memoir(: But it's still super original

on Sep. 26 2013 at 9:50 am
MidnightDreamer BRONZE, Lewisville, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment
This was so inspiring to me and reminded me so much of myself. I went through an epiphany very similar to this. The way you described everything and the meaning behind it was just beautiful. Very good!

TwanKay said...
on Sep. 16 2013 at 2:16 pm
Your writing inspired me, I'm a poetic person and not a single writing piece would bring tears to my eyes but yours, the way you express your poppy on how he meant so much to you, I felt as if it was me in your shoes, you are indeed a writer with passion.:)

on Jul. 18 2013 at 9:45 pm
Isibeal19 PLATINUM, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
26 articles 12 photos 22 comments

Favorite Quote:
*Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain.*

I love this piece. It's amazing, and exactly what I need to do. Thank you for writing this; it means more than you think!:)

paigeypoo said...
on Jun. 16 2013 at 5:08 pm
This was an amazing piece. The words are so discriptive that I felt I was in the room with you. Fantastic.

Kamana BRONZE said...
on May. 30 2013 at 6:49 pm
Kamana BRONZE, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
4 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
Everyone deserves to be loved, even if they can't find it in them to love themselves or anyone else for that matter.

This truely is amazing, almost like picking yourself up and putting your life back together again which is kind of where I am right now. This was something that I really needed to hear, thank you.

rosie123456g said...
on May. 10 2013 at 8:05 am
I am writing a memoir in my class and it really inspired me to keep writing and it gave me a lot of ideas  THANKS

Laur01 SILVER said...
on Apr. 29 2013 at 1:54 pm
Laur01 SILVER, Syracuse, New York
5 articles 0 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
You never fail until you stop trying. -Albert Einstein

Love it! This memoir is so well written!

on Mar. 26 2013 at 7:32 pm
elisha24 SILVER, Kerry, Other
6 articles 5 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
Whats for you wont pass you,
life is like photography, we develop from the negatives
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only thing you have

Love this memoir. I read it while sitting in my bed and it has given me the sudden urge to see what lays within the cluttered shelves.