Cleaning my room…and remembering.

My room is finally clean!

Previously it seemed as if I were constructing towers of things upon every surface imaginable. Mostly with books as building blocks. I had two relatively large to-be-read spires that were tottering precariously the past few weeks.  And a to-be-given-away pile as well, of books that I was seriously considering giving away because I needed shelf space for ones I cherished more. Recently, however, I bought a new shelf that almost reaches up to my ceiling. So, I piled those homeless books on there and reveled at how many I have not yet delved into and sighed happily at the ones I managed to save. It’s funny because I always thought that when it came down to it, I’d gladly give away some of my books, but I haven’t really done so yet. I suspect I may have one of those complexes.

Tucked in any little crack and crevice that still existed, upon any dusty horizontal plane not yet inhabited, I had strategically placed a number of tiny keepsakes and souvenirs. Things that I’ve found at the beach or inside chocolate eggs or nestled in the grass of some field – I’ve kept them all. Yesterday, I had to pass a painful ordeal, in which another helped me to part with some of these items. I had stories for them all, if you would believe it! For a tiny, sweet-faced dwarf holding faded flowers, the story ran along the lines of winning an Easter egg hunt and receiving a treasure trove of dwarves (of which I’ve only kept this one). For the twirling Japanese rabbit that played an unidentifiable tune, the same such rabbit had sung my budgie to sleep every night until he became only a memory. For the lonely mottled walnut, I had once imagined something living inside of it, whispering secrets to its possessor. There’s so much more. Tossed amongst these particular items are gems and jewels that I picked up on my travels. Smoothed, colored glass from the beach, opaline weathered stones, glossy (fake) rubies that dotted banquet tables at weddings and anniversaries. But now, the shelves are strangely barren of these artifacts of memory.

See my walls! They charted the history of my room from the juvenile days to the present. I’ve got a distorted papier maché mask that leers down at guests with its lopsided grin. A few select pieces of artwork with animal themes: a bird pecking at a distraught worm, a wasp and caterpillar wearing confused grins as they face each other, an ornery lion roaring at – who knows what? – and a stern faced elk with a glossy nose (that I was particularly proud of). There were lots more up there before. My walls are peppered with pin-holes – but now it’s less chaotic.

Even though, on the outside my room looks a lot more inhabitable (and less dusty), there’s still so much more stuffed deep into the recesses of my drawers and closets that I have to get rid of. Things like, if you can believe it, paper people – tons of them (fortunately they’re made of paper so they don’t take up much space). And they’ve got names and careers, friends and lovers. I still vaguely remember the community network. Rosemary was the girl who was the town scapegoat (the executioner was in love with her – yes, we had an executioner, funny thing though, he didn’t have a name – or a face for that matter). We had Peg-leg the pirate who had a grizzled chin and who I always imagined carried a scent with him – of dead marine life.  I believe he would sometimes compete with the executioner for Rosemary’s hand if only just to irk the black-robed man. Haha, we also had a lady named Tara-Colta who was a gypsy and knew where to find the ripest blueberries. We had a melancholic minstrel named Dougal who was in love with a different girl every week, a little Indian boy named Johander who had a sword and a coconut permanently stuck to his two hands, a scholarly fellow dubbed Brian whom no one ever listened to in class (or in the community). Those were fun times. As children, we were cruel to these characters. Quite cruel.

I’ve also got some other little snippets of papers from the Riddler’s days. Riddler was a knavish kidnapper-robber who was also some sort of twisted detective mentor. He would claim to steal something precious and not tell you what it was. Then, he would leave a series of clues around the house or outside, that rhymed hideously, and were ambiguous, and contained ink-blotched drawings of things that you could barely recognize. Then, you were forced to decipher the clues in order to find out what it was you lost. If you answered a riddle incorrectly you would only find a scrap of paper with a line to ridicule and taunt you and prove to you how the Riddler knew you would make such a mistake! If you were on the right path though, he can be quite encouraging. My brother and I loved that game. We invested a lot of time into composing Riddler’s atrocious poems, and thinking up incredibly hard yet fundamentally easy clues. Usually we’d start in the morning and have an entire clue-solving-festival in the evening. Here’s a sample that I’ve dug up with the spirit of humiliation in mind:

Welcome back to the Riddler’s game,

Hopefully by the end of this game you’ll hide your face in shame!

For the Riddler’s back, and the knowledge I have is what you lack!

Time is a wonderful thing if you can bend towards your will,

Arms ticking, evermore, and still,

Until you find the second clue and find the kissing whippoorwhill.

On second thought, I still think it’s fantastic.

Any recent discoveries in cluttered rooms or attic boxes lately?



  1. I’ve been trying to get down to room-cleaning for ages, but there are always better things to do ~ Reading, blogging, writing, etc. The last time I cleaned my room, I think I found a few old trinkets and pictures. One photo I found will probably always make me chuckle: My cousins and I piled into a fake car (a prop, I suppose) that was crashed into the rocks next to a safari sign. The oldest of us wore a dubious expression, the cousin at the wheel looked terribly determined to back that thing out of there, and I, the youngest, was just laughing and laughing…

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