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

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This article has 421 comments.


ColbusEffect said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:10 am
ColbusEffect, Yeetville, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
this is a good story. I like how you blend the imagery to a real-life scenario.

ec_24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:08 am
ec_24, New York City, New York
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I liked the description and figurative language throughout the story. The memories you were able to go back to and imagine felt like readers were actually in that moment with you.

lsoeder24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:07 am
lsoeder24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I love this! I like how you show you can never escape the past. There was a great use of similies and metaphors. I love how you let the readers relive the moments with you. There was such a clear change from the beginning to the end. I like how every part of the memoir wrapped up at the end when you realized you were really looking for yourself.

on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:07 am
deanna_aguiar, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I liked how this story went from just a story about a girl finally cleaning up her messy room to a story with meaning and a great message behind it.

JFernandez24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:06 am
JFernandez24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I like how you describe your messy room as an ocean.

KilgannonS24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:05 am
KilgannonS24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I liked how you ended your story by realizing what was missing

JDAlessandro said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:04 am
JDAlessandro, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I like the figurative language and how it really shows how messy the room was.

jdenru said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:04 am
jdenru, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
It was very descriptive and good

AG_Quez said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:04 am
AG_Quez, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really liked how you described the important items you found in more detail. Also, I really liked the ending how what you were looking for the whole time was yourself.

nickbajohr17 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:04 am
nickbajohr17, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments
I really liked the use of metaphors and similes. This is a good story because most kids can relate to having a messy room. This was a good story and I was intrigued as to what she would find in her messy room from the beginning.

fionafarrell said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:04 am
fionafarrell, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really enjoyed your story! It was very descriptive which made me feel as if I was you at the moment. Great story!

Nathan-__- said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:04 am
Nathan-__-, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I like that she used a lot of description it really painted a picture in my head

amoylan24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:02 am
amoylan24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I loved the sensory details throughout the book as well as the ending when you realized it not that you wanted to clean your room, you wanted to find yourself again.

on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:02 am
cdevincenzo24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really liked that you realized through your messy room could be amazing memories that you could relive. Great story!

Brielle17 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:01 am
Brielle17, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I liked that there were a lot of details and figurative language.

asalamone24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:01 am
asalamone24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I thought it was very interesting when you went through each item and described the meaning to you.

ngaurin24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:00 am
ngaurin24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"My plan failed and the t-rex promptly ate my new dog."
-Slimecicle 2018

I liked how there was a lot of figurative language and how you related each item to time you spent with a person that you were/are close to.

csolis said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 10:00 am
csolis, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really liked how a simple act helped you find out who you are

eterry12 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 9:59 am
eterry12, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
you involve a lot of relatable times in your content which can really keep your reader on the edge of there seat

on Jun. 11 2019 at 9:59 am
gabrielrobinson, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I liked the detail of the story