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.

kane said...
on Sep. 3 2010 at 2:13 pm
This is great. It reminds so much of myself.

Sara said...
on Aug. 11 2010 at 8:00 pm
Loved it! Tell me when you get a book published!

on Aug. 11 2010 at 7:40 pm
ThatClarinetPerson SILVER, Tequesta, Florida
8 articles 0 photos 226 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life. Don't talk to me about life."
~Marvin the Paranoid Android (from the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy series)
Statistical analysis suggests that i am probably in tune with someone
(hahahahaha! I love this cause i'm never ever ever in tune >o

sounds like a kudos bar. they're covered in chocolate :) and very yummy :D

on Aug. 11 2010 at 1:57 pm
shannonwuu BRONZE, Cupertino, California
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"There is a choice you have to make in every thing you do, and you must always keep in mind, the choice you make, makes you." -Anon.

Wow! Great story.  I like how you can turn an ordinary situation into something so magical :)

on Aug. 11 2010 at 8:39 am
DiamondsIntheGrass GOLD, Martinsville, New Jersey
14 articles 1 photo 278 comments

Favorite Quote:
Worry is simply a misuse of the imagination.

the last sentence seems to wrap up the story perfectly!  nice story.

on Aug. 9 2010 at 7:00 pm
This story is amazing. Really inspirational. How one little thing can turn your whole life around. Keep on writing!

on Jul. 20 2010 at 10:39 pm
deus-ex-machina14 BRONZE, Stewartsville, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 439 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are two main tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde

I had to do that with my room once, haha. It's kind of a bittersweet feeling...like your grateful for your memories, but you wish some of them stayed underneath the mess. Very articulate and very enticing. Great!

on Jul. 20 2010 at 8:33 pm
ellebelly SILVER, Keller, Texas
7 articles 2 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
yesterday is history tomorrow is a mystery today is a gift that's why its called the present

i really liked it! keep writing:) the way you described your room reminds me so much of my own room and now i am scard to clean it cuz i might have the whole memory thing too. great strory btw!

Lil'Gurl said...
on Jul. 20 2010 at 8:19 pm
ok thanx i hear it a lot

on Jul. 20 2010 at 6:58 pm
Stefegg PLATINUM, Maysville, Missouri
21 articles 0 photos 78 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world."

That was very well written.  My mom hates it when my room's a mess, although it's not normally quite as bad as you described yours.  I loved how you ended it as well, Keep Writing!

on Jul. 20 2010 at 5:19 pm
crzybookworm BRONZE, Highland, California
2 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The only thing to fear is fear itself."

It makes me wanna clean my messy room. Lol. It always interesting to what we may find in the forgotten pits of the closet. Awesome job!

on Jul. 20 2010 at 4:27 pm
haventy0uheard PLATINUM, Kings Park, New York
28 articles 0 photos 186 comments
This is so motivating and just awesome! I'm actually cleaning my room right now but I took a break haha =]

on Jul. 20 2010 at 3:53 pm
iluvnacho PLATINUM, Somewhere, Colorado
28 articles 1 photo 67 comments

Favorite Quote:
\"Find the beauty in the ugly\"-Jason Mraz 5-19-10
\"Be kinder than nessicary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.\" Unknown 11-29-10

I think its just a way of saying 'good job' i'm not really sure, but i know it means something good. plus, i like the way it sounds. haha

on Jul. 20 2010 at 3:07 pm
koalabear BRONZE, Ft. Myers, Florida
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
You get out what you put into something.

in this story, i expeced the author to take us through her experience of cleaning her room but  was happily surprised when she was bringing back old memories because n the end that s all you have.

Lil'Gurl said...
on Jul. 20 2010 at 8:19 am
what does "kudos" mean? a lot of ppl say it and i just don't know what it means.

TuffGurl said...
on Jul. 20 2010 at 8:18 am
Great article! That's exactly how my room is: messy, dusty, closet chock full of books in mine, and how I would get faintly naseous at the idea of cleaning my room. My friends and I used to think, "if we clean our room, how do we know where everything is?!"

on Jul. 16 2010 at 11:04 pm
I love the concept of each thing in the room having a special memory. I can relate to lost memories and forgotton things. Great Work.

on Jul. 16 2010 at 8:59 pm
LittleMissWhimsical SILVER, Saginaw, Michigan
5 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I wonder about all roads not taken and am moved to quote Frost...but won't. It is sad to be able only to mouth other poets. I want someone to mouth me." Miss Sylvia Plath

Wow! Oh my gosh you write so well! I just had to tell you, you are awesome at what you do...replaying scenes in people's minds, and I loved reading your work. Lovely! I really loved this a lot.

on Jul. 3 2010 at 10:01 am

wow, i feel just like this.

my room may not be that exagerrated of a mess, but its always good to clean it out.

you never know what you may find.

[i loved reading this]

on Jun. 28 2010 at 4:23 pm
IamtheshyStargirl PLATINUM, Lothlorien, Utah
44 articles 16 photos 2206 comments

Favorite Quote:
Boredom instigates extreme creativity.

"Bowing gratefully to all of my subjects, 'thank you. Thank you. The pleasure is mine." Nah, I'm just kidding. We're all kings together.'"

Wow. I love the ending.