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.


-Duckie- GOLD said...
on Oct. 13 2011 at 5:17 pm
-Duckie- GOLD, West Fargo, North Dakota
18 articles 0 photos 127 comments

Favorite Quote:
Your heart is a weapon the size of your fist. Keep fighting. Keep loving.
-Anonymous

... I do believe I'll go clean my room. LOVE IT! <3!

on Oct. 3 2011 at 7:29 pm
zadiekatie23 PLATINUM, Rio Rancho, New Mexico
39 articles 4 photos 69 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

Leave me speechless why don't you! :D Naw, it's okay. It's BRILLIANT, in fact. This writing is brilliant. This story is brilliant. It radiates light and envelops you in warmth and creates a sanctuary amidst chaos. The ending really tied it together, and that last line alone made me connect to your character. Brilliant, brilliant indeed.

on Sep. 26 2011 at 12:48 pm
Yah this made me really want to clean my room.

on Sep. 11 2011 at 3:02 pm
BlueBubbles95 BRONZE, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 37 comments
Awesome, keep writing.

on Jul. 30 2011 at 10:36 pm
cheetoz45680 DIAMOND, Bridgeport, Connecticut
88 articles 0 photos 69 comments

Favorite Quote:
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

wow my room is such a mmeeessssssssssssss. i clean it like one in 3 or 4 months. and the so be sincere, it's as dirty as it was in less then a week after i clean it. awesome story though. i can relate to this.

on Jul. 30 2011 at 12:01 am
Pedophobic BRONZE, Moreno Valley, California
3 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you want people to be themselves, be prepared to expect not only the best of them, but the worst as well.

Im still not gonna clean my room.

on Jul. 29 2011 at 10:24 am
RanaHewezi1998 SILVER, Ames, Iowa
5 articles 0 photos 63 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I've ended up where I needed to be."
-Douglas Adams

 wow great story! keep it up!

on Jul. 7 2011 at 2:31 pm
SaritaFajita BRONZE, Arlington, Texas
3 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
- In your anger do not sin.
Psalm 4:4

- "Love the life you live, live the life you love." -bob marley.

[ That posted by me BTW)

on Jul. 7 2011 at 2:30 pm
SaritaFajita BRONZE, Arlington, Texas
3 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
- In your anger do not sin.
Psalm 4:4

- "Love the life you live, live the life you love." -bob marley.

Love it! So many people can relatee to this, you might even encourage some kids to clean their own rooms!(;

. said...
on Jul. 7 2011 at 2:28 pm
Love it! So many people can relatee to this, you might even encourage some kids to clean their own rooms !(;

on Jul. 7 2011 at 12:19 pm
not.that.girl BRONZE, Troy, Michigan
1 article 2 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thought never to heaven go.

huh. this strangely reminds me of myself...i love it! Theres so much detail, but not too much that its overwhelming. perfect!

on Jul. 7 2011 at 8:45 am
dia.dreamer GOLD, Kochi, Other
10 articles 0 photos 145 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." - Michelangelo
"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am." - Sylvia Plath

i know! the detail was the best part! everything was described so crystal clearly!!

on Jul. 7 2011 at 8:37 am
dia.dreamer GOLD, Kochi, Other
10 articles 0 photos 145 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." - Michelangelo
"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am." - Sylvia Plath

.....how is it possible for people to be so talented?? i am speechless!

this didn't just touch me - it slammed headlong into my soul!! keep writing more!!


on Jun. 3 2011 at 7:58 pm
IAmWhoIWantToBe PLATINUM, Manila, Other
41 articles 0 photos 650 comments

Favorite Quote:
‎"I’m learning how to drown out the constant noise that is such an inseparable part of my life. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I only have to follow my heart and concentrate on what I want to say to the world: I run my world." - Beyoncé

this is touching!! finally you found yourself... im happy for you. =)

stanleysmart said...
on May. 31 2011 at 9:50 am
Really great story! I loved the similes you used and the last line ended the piece perfectly and a great job on this, it was nice and at the first how mess her room is, it looks like how messy mine was some days ago. The comparisons of words and sentence where there too.  Also liked the descriptive words that has some little details made the story fun

stanleysmart said...
on May. 31 2011 at 9:48 am
Really great story! I loved the similes you used and the last line ended the piece perfectly and a great job on this, it was nice and at the first how mess her room is, it looks like how messy mine was some days ago. The comparisons of words and sentence where there too.   

lilLupe said...
on May. 24 2011 at 6:37 pm
lilLupe, Hialeah, Florida
0 articles 1 photo 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Imperfection is besqueeauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ~Marilyn Monroe

wow it was really amazing. while reading it it  felt like i ws their in your room. Lots of detail. I could easily relate!

the dude said...
on May. 17 2011 at 12:11 pm
Ok the article u rote was amazing loved it and loved the pic too =), Now how u feel about the room my i still the same =)

mr.black said...
on May. 2 2011 at 12:48 pm
eh... ya i ges its good in comparison to of the some other stuff on here.

listeningx3 said...
on May. 2 2011 at 10:40 am
wow. i really love this . nice work :)