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 421 comments.


bdetgen24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 9:59 am
bdetgen24, Madison, New Jersey
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I liked how you described each item and what it meant to you after you found it.

plutz24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 9:58 am
plutz24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I really liked the detail in your story.

karmstrong said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:22 am
karmstrong, Madison, New Jersey
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I like ending where you realized you were actually looking for yourself

on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:22 am
aharalampoudis24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I loved how you described each item separately, and assigned them each to a person. I liked how each item also had a story to lead you along the way.

ihunter24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:21 am
ihunter24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really like the flow from the messy beginning to the clean end. All of this captures an image in the reader's mind of going through old memories. I like the specific details of the memories the author has with people such as her mom or best friend.

kgreer24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:20 am
kgreer24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I loved this! It shows that you can never escape the past. The details really suck the reader in and zooms in on each memory.

pstern24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:19 am
pstern24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I think this was a really interesting short story. This story also made me want to clean my own room, which is really messy, and this story made me realize that I should clean my room before it gets this messy.

LDem24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:18 am
LDem24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I like the description and detail and how there is a clear change of who you were in the beginning to the end. I like how to many it seems as a simple act to clean your room but in the story it helped bring back old memorys.

lcreteau24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:18 am
lcreteau24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really liked the story!! The ending really left the reader on a good note. I loved how the objects you found were such important parts of your life that you forgot.

MHurley24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:17 am
MHurley24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I liked your story. The way you used description to show how your room really was was good.

AFasolas24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:17 am
AFasolas24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I love this! Great writing and use of metaphors, and similies. This really captures the moment of finding old things and reliving all of the memories. Great message!

CMorales24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:17 am
CMorales24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I liked your story! It was very heart warming

csmith24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:17 am
csmith24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Readers can see a clear change in the character from the beginning to the end of the story which is good. I liked when you remembered all of your old childhood memories while cleaning your room. Great use of description.

mjohansen24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:16 am
mjohansen24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I loved the way this memoir was written. Readers and truly see how the writer's memories and feelings were buried beneath the uncleanliness of the room and how they were lost and now found. The descriptive sensory details really paint a picture for the reader and make them feel as though they are a part of the story. Very well done! :)

aholland24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:16 am
aholland24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really liked the story, and I liked how each item she found while cleaning up her room brought back a memory she had forgotten. This shows how much she was missing out on, and what she had forgotten that was important to her.

Mets4Life said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:16 am
Mets4Life, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hello" - multiple people

This piece was put together wonderfully. It was especially good when you reminisced on your childhood memories.

cpoole24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:15 am
cpoole24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Nice detail

mmeyer24 said...
on Jun. 11 2019 at 8:15 am
mmeyer24, Madison, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really like how clear the change in you is from the beginning to the end, it really helps teach the reader a lesson.

Whaleshark57 said...
on Jan. 6 2019 at 11:44 pm
Whaleshark57, West Chester, Pennsylvania
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
I love this!! I think that you captured the nostalgia of going through old items beautifully. I also like that you addressed each item separately and assigned them to a specific person.

on Sep. 17 2018 at 11:16 am
Iliektoweedbucks, Franklin, Wisconsin
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
I am freaking lost in this because it was sooo good. I think I found a good story to read. Ducks for president 2020