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 426 comments.

on Jan. 8 2011 at 6:51 pm
Madison908 BRONZE, Las Vegas, Nevada
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
Awsome details and such strong imagery ! I love this memoir! Good job! :)

skateers said...
on Jan. 4 2011 at 10:33 am

i can totally understand how you feel when you see that room my parents get mad when they see my room my bro thinks it is a trash can!!! meanie lol hahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah thtas halarious haha hve a nice life unless you died:( well yea u know haha see yaaa and CLEAN YOUR ROOOM GIRL!! lov ya story



on Dec. 27 2010 at 2:17 pm
buzzlikebea GOLD, Fitchburg, Wisconsin
10 articles 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
Shoot for the moon. For, even if you miss, you'll still land amongst the stars.

this is really fantastic. like truly.  i never would've thought i messy life would be compared to a messy room, but you managed to, and flawlessly.  nice work!

on Dec. 25 2010 at 7:51 pm
OriginalCarbonation GOLD, Naperville, Illinois
11 articles 0 photos 102 comments

Favorite Quote:
dream as if you'll live forever
live as if you'll die tomorrow

i now this might sound silly but u inspired me to clean my room!! :)

on Dec. 21 2010 at 4:29 pm
HelloLove37 BRONZE, Wyoming, Michigan
1 article 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Dance like nobody's watching, love like you'll never get hurt, live like its heaven on earth."

I loved how you matched the messy room to your life, yourself, everything. It really moved me and it was breathtaking and amazing.(: Keep up the good work!

writerssoul said...
on Dec. 16 2010 at 1:33 pm
writerssoul, One, Delaware
0 articles 0 photos 105 comments
Omg this is sooo good! It really flows and tugged at my heartstrings . It didnt drag on, but had nice details. I love it.

moldyboy74 said...
on Dec. 8 2010 at 12:56 pm
This WAS WONDERFUL, truly moving, the story of finding your self. I especially liked the "room" metaphorically 

on Nov. 29 2010 at 3:12 pm
BurningRose SILVER, New Fairfield, Connecticut
6 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
I dunno.

great job! this moved me to tears :)

on Nov. 29 2010 at 10:44 am
Lizzi Exton BRONZE, Canaan, New Hampshire
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
I loved the way how you used the dirty room imagery to capture the valuable things in life that get buried with time and other activities. We sometimes forget these things and in it we forget ourselves.

on Nov. 24 2010 at 5:44 pm
jh6-4ever SILVER, Cornish Flat, New Hampshire
5 articles 1 photo 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present. :)

Very powerful. This moved me.

on Nov. 7 2010 at 9:25 pm
redhairCat PLATINUM, Pebble Beach, California
47 articles 20 photos 411 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I can do anything!"


on Oct. 20 2010 at 5:11 pm
soccerlove BRONZE, Brighton, Michigan
2 articles 5 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"This day I will marry my friend, the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"
-Source Unknown

I love your piece!!! pleaseee keep posting more!! i love your work!! :)))

Katie1234 GOLD said...
on Oct. 16 2010 at 11:02 pm
Katie1234 GOLD, Velva, North Dakota
10 articles 0 photos 77 comments

Favorite Quote:
"When life becomes more than you can stand; fall to your knees"
"To be normal is to be boring."
"You cannot make men good by law."
"Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God because He said so."
"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."

I love the comparison of the items being lost in the shelf like we lose friends in a phone book, and we just need to look for them to find them. This piece was very well written. I love How everything tied together in the end. While I was reading this I couldn't stop thinking about myself and how there was a time when I was lost and looking for myself. Thank you for sharing this!

on Oct. 16 2010 at 5:55 pm
jericonation PLATINUM, Princeton, New Jersey
31 articles 22 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Never let a little thing like total humiliation get between you and a good time."

very nice. it actually inspires me to clean up my room :)

on Oct. 16 2010 at 5:08 pm
Still_Waters26 SILVER, Ladysmith, Wisconsin
6 articles 0 photos 88 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We few, we happy few/we band of brothers/For he to-day that sheds his blood with me/Shall be my brother"
-Shakespeare, "Henry V"

Well-written.  Very descriptive and vivid, and it had me hooked from the beginning.  Lol, I only hope someday my little sister will have the same experience!!!!

on Oct. 16 2010 at 2:17 pm
Whisperheart BRONZE, Ashburn, Virginia
1 article 8 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Cause for a moment a band of thieves in ripped up jeans got to rule the world..."~Taylor Swift
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Wow, that was a great story. It is amazing how some simple things can just make you remember who you are and bring to the surface so many memories. This piece sums it all up.


on Oct. 16 2010 at 1:23 pm
DaydreamBeliever GOLD, Lockport, Other
15 articles 4 photos 140 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you live to be one hundred, I want to live to be one hundred minus one day, so that I'll never have to live without you. -Winnie the Pooh

reminds me of myself and my room :P great writing.

shawn123 said...
on Oct. 12 2010 at 12:55 pm

it was a good story


Tarrabears said...
on Oct. 12 2010 at 9:22 am
sometimes we for get who we are and were we come from. and i just think its amazing how little things such as cleaning a messy room reminds us who we are and were we came from can bring back so many memories!! :)

on Oct. 12 2010 at 9:14 am
wow steven wow!!