My mom calls it a pigsty. My dad claims it’s the site of a tornado landing. I consider it my safe haven. My memory lane. My bedroom; complete with extra Container Store plastic drawers to accommodate all my extra “stuff” and added wood shelves to hold all my other “stuff.”

Every time my mother hands me a black trash bag as she tells me it’s time to clean out my room, I cringe. We both know that bag is going to come back as empty as it was when she handed it to me the first time.

It always starts with, “How about the 12 sunglasses lined up on your dresser collecting dust?” But I could never throw those out. Every cheap, plastic pair of sunglasses represent a time when I was killing it on the dance floor at a bar mitzvah. They represent every time a motivational dancer tossed me a pair, confirming that the brace-faced 13-year-old was the star of the party. Without them, how would I get my daily reminder of my crazy middle school nights?

We then move onto the 4-foot domo sitting in the corner of my room. Four summers ago at camp, my friend won this oversized, stuffed monster for me. (Turns out the feat wasn’t him winning the toy, but me transporting it back to Miami from the Poconos.) Yes, it takes up a lot of room, and yes, it is quite scary looking, but every time I look at it I’m reminded of all my perfect years at summer camp.

Once the black trash bag reaches my desk, we find a caricature of my best friend and me, hidden under a pile of papers. Visiting from Pennsylvania over winter break, I knew I had to take my friend to Santa’s Enchanted Forest. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew, I had the most horrific-looking caricature of the two of us in my hand. A piece of paper I couldn’t even look at. A piece of paper I never want anyone seeing. Yet, a piece of paper I could never throw out. Years from now, once I recover, I may finally laugh at the piece of “art.”

Pushed against my wall, sits a wooden carriage. In that wooden carriage, too many stuffed animals to count reside. I could not tell you the last time I ever took a single stuffed animal out of that carriage, but when my mom holds the trash bag out to collect them, I obviously cannot just toss them into that death trap. Those stuffed animals are my childhood.

At first glance, some may call me a hoarder. In reality, however, I am preserving the pieces of my history. The pieces of myself. Every artifact in my room represents something in my life that I never want to forget about. While one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure, one person’s stuff may be another person’s identity.



Samantha Rosen is a senior at Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Pinecrest.