In my house, there are 57 rolls of toilet paper. Three people live here.
(I just got up from the computer and counted. Um, toilet paper rolls. Not people.)
I have 37 blank notebooks and 43 brand-new mechanical pencils.
I have 45 spools of ribbon.
Up until Sunday, I had 8 boxes of Annie’s Bunny Grahams, 48 cans of Spicy V-8, and 3 unopened jars of Pace salsa (plus the open one in the fridge).
It occurred to me recently that this miiiiight be overkill. I know parents of five who don’t have as much stockpiled as I do. (When I made this realization, I donated six boxes of Bunny Grahams--among other things--to the food shelf.)
What would possess me to buy 45 spools of ribbon or 57 rolls of toilet paper??
Well, you know...just in case.
Just in case we all contract dysentery and NEED that much TP. Just in case I need to craft 1,000 paper cranes with that notebook paper. Just in case I need to make an emergency Maypole or escape from a second story window on a hand-crafted rope of ribbon. Just in case I need to suddenly feed 64 kindergarteners a snack of Bunny Grahams and make three vats of chili for their parents.
Yeah, every excuse I came up with was equally ridiculous.
So I started thinking about why I feel like I need so much extra, and why I keep buying in spite of knowing that I already have more than enough, and I came up with this: it's all about fear.
Losing my driver’s license was a terrible loss of independence. Something as routine as grocery shopping became impossible to do alone.
I can’t drive, and not driving means that I can’t drive to the store. (The closest one is five miles away.) I can’t pick up my foster daughter from swimming lessons or take her to soccer practice. I can’t make plans to meet friends at a restaurant or to see a movie. I can’t drive myself to the dentist, or the doctor, or the chiropractor.
Regardless of my inability to drive, life goes on. All of those errands still have to happen, and they do, but they now involve zillions of phone calls and nearly as many polite refusals from people who are already busy going to their own doctors and buying their own groceries and working their own jobs.
So, when I get the chance to go to a store, I buy in bulk. I’ll buy two or three (or eight) when one would do, just because I am afraid of making those phone calls, of hearing the “Oh, I’m so sorry, but I have to _____ that day, so I can’t drive you. Maybe another time, though?”
Having enough stuff around to supply an emergency underground bunker for three years makes me feel kind of...safe.
It keeps me from unnecessarily subjecting myself to the “Oh, I’m so sorry, but...” spiel. (I still have to ask for rides, but they are mostly limited to necessities: appointments and perishable grocery items.)
Having a disorder as unpredictable as epilepsy has made me carve predictability into the changing landscape of my life in any way that I can. Bulk shopping offers some predictability, but it hasn’t solved the root of the problem: my loss of independence.
Perhaps I have carved away too much.
Having 45 spools of ribbon isn’t improving my quality of life, and it’s not going to gain me any independence. (Unless I use it all to make 4th of July pom-poms. Then it might help a little.)
I’m afraid of needing others, but I’m also afraid of not being reliable in a way that I once was. I’m afraid of running out, of seeing more lack and gaps in my life (even Bunny Grahams). Epilepsy has made enough lack and gaps.
And I can’t exactly fill those holes with toilet paper.