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.

Similar Articles


This article has 426 comments.

on Jun. 28 2010 at 2:26 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

It describes exactly what you feel like when cleaning your room. An outstanding piece of work. Kudos :D

on Jun. 28 2010 at 12:34 pm
easy-as-123-ABC SILVER, Palo Alto, California
5 articles 0 photos 5 comments
This is a really thoughtful and wonderfully written piece. I can personally relate to this story. You have talent! Keep up the great work. :)

on Jun. 28 2010 at 9:12 am
RockinEmerald SILVER, Imlay City, Michigan
9 articles 2 photos 31 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't give up.


on Jun. 28 2010 at 8:00 am
K9_Typical_Islander SILVER, Koror, Other
7 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
Hours of boredom followed by moments of excitement (and adrenaline)- that's fishing

The thought of that room made me remember my very own cousin's room . Gosh, everything was everywhere and I was always amazed at how she knew what item she wanted was where at! She never did see the bottom of her floor once, things just ended up donated if she tried. Well this article is great and fun to read- keep it up  :D

on Jun. 28 2010 at 7:46 am
fireeyedgirl SILVER, Dulles, Virginia
7 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not "true" because we're hungry for another kind of truth: the mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about someone who lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself. "
— Orson Scott Card

This makes me want to clean my room and at the moment I'm not even staying in it. Maybe when my Aunts leave...

HelloLove said...
on Jun. 6 2010 at 6:57 pm
HelloLove, Dexter, Michigan
0 articles 0 photos 68 comments

Favorite Quote:
Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you're at.
Tut, tut, child! Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it.

That's really a cleansing thought, I very much enjoyed this story. Lovely. ^.^

on Jun. 6 2010 at 6:55 pm
Love_with_no_Heart BRONZE, San Antonio, Texas
3 articles 0 photos 13 comments
i like the story so much. its very entertaining. my room can get like that too, and then i eventually clean it.. i wish i could find little memories like that in my mess, but sadly i never do.. i really love your story. i enjoyed it very much

on Jun. 6 2010 at 6:18 pm
forgottenpenname GOLD, Troy, Michigan
12 articles 0 photos 147 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Carpe diem."

That sounds so much like my room, it's crazy.

Unlike you, though, I'm yet to find the strength to get through the piles of old dishes, books, and dirty clothes. Your piece was incredibly powerful. Thank you for writing it.

on May. 20 2010 at 11:51 am
chartothalatte GOLD, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
10 articles 1 photo 62 comments
wow. wow is all i can say. this is very powerful stuff. you should publish this! for the public. i really, really enjoyed reading this. i know how you feel, except it wasn't in my room; it was in my mind. it was cluttered with old, bad memories that i finally let go of and moved to uncover the good ones. excellent article! please keep writing!(:

on May. 15 2010 at 3:46 pm
BungalowBillPhotography, Juno, Alaska
0 articles 0 photos 144 comments

Favorite Quote:

wow. very good discriptions, it was like my mind was producing a movie. this was very powerful, i almost cried

on May. 15 2010 at 11:37 am
she-is-a-witch, Towson, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 33 comments
:) This is so amazing, I feel like crying, because I know exactly what you mean.  I feel like I'm losing who I was, the memories and items that remind of who I was.

on May. 13 2010 at 2:23 am
StarlightStormcloud, Pasadena, California
0 articles 3 photos 34 comments
OH GOD I know EXACTLY what you are talking about!!  I had the same experience (and actually wrote about it as well)  Except it was with this insanely large bulletin board that hung in front of my desk.  I would tack, tack, tack, hang, and hang just about every piece of memorabilia I possessed on it.  One night, I got this suffocating, itching feeling of just the build up of memories and visual chaos and realized I had to take it down immediately.  Then I felt strangely MUCH better...  Anyways, Great story!!  I can really relate, as you can see. 

on Apr. 23 2010 at 7:50 pm
thisisascreenname BRONZE, Sugarloaf, California
4 articles 0 photos 32 comments
liked how you made cleaning your room into a life changing experience! lol. anyways, i think it was a great piece and you should keep writing because you're great!

iamnoelle GOLD said...
on Apr. 23 2010 at 2:21 pm
iamnoelle GOLD, Tok, Alaska
11 articles 8 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Do or do not...there is no try." -Yoda
"Life is only a dream, to die is to wake from it." -David G. (A friend of mine.)

i really like it!

Mspi18 BRONZE said...
on Apr. 23 2010 at 11:46 am
Mspi18 BRONZE, Lawrence, New York
1 article 5 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
Groucho Marx

wonderful peice of work. i love how intensly you decribed everything

Riley141 GOLD said...
on Apr. 1 2010 at 3:56 pm
Riley141 GOLD, Yale, Michigan
13 articles 3 photos 145 comments

Favorite Quote:
" Always do right. This will gratifiy some people and astonish the rest." Mark Twain

This was reeeaaalyy good...Keep writing.



BethA GOLD said...
on Mar. 10 2010 at 10:45 pm
BethA GOLD, Ballarat, Other
15 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
God gives with one and takes with another.

This is a fantastic piece of writing! Keep the good work up. You definitely have a talent. You should also check out some of my work :)

Good luck with the writing!

on Mar. 10 2010 at 8:38 pm
awesomeaugust GOLD, Boston, Massachusetts
10 articles 0 photos 176 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground"
~Theordore Roosevelt

What an amazing piece of writing. I love how something so seemingly small such as cleaning a room was such a monumental event in your life. I also loved how you weren't afraid to show off your quirks and was a little suprised by the sudden sad feel it took when you wrote about your Poppy but I thought it was very nice. I esspecially liked the line "Post-it notes I had forgotten to remember" Great job and keep writing!

on Feb. 28 2010 at 6:00 pm
SarClark BRONZE, NC, Connecticut
2 articles 0 photos 534 comments
I really love this <3 My favorite!!

on Feb. 18 2010 at 7:27 pm
JessicaScaffidi SILVER, Tucson, Arizona
5 articles 0 photos 6 comments
This is so well written and amazing. I love how you show your quirks in this(: