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I am a little bit of a hoarder, although I prefer the word “collector.” I gather yarn and knitting needles, colorful pencils and drawing tablets, pens and journals, books and more books, and toilet paper.

To be fair, I don’t actually collect toilet paper (though it would be funny if I did). I simply hate even the thought of running out of it.

Growing up Soviet Union, there were many times when we didn’t have toilet paper. And when we did have it, it was not very good quality. I remember, my grandparents had a hook by the toilet, on which square sheets of cut newspaper hung. Not exactly soft, but readily available and cheap, newspapers were an alternative of something only the very few and very rich had a steady supply of.

This particular kind of scarcity as a child has insured that I would never go without as an adult. Now, I buy the largest pack of the softest toilet tissues on the market, and usually two packs at a time, because we have a bathroom upstairs as well as downstairs.

It was an encounter involving toilet paper that made me realize that my boyfriend was “husband material.” I had just moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and after getting an apartment, Jeff and I went shopping at WalMart for essentials. Toothpaste and toothbrush, plates and silverware, shower curtain and rings, and, of course, I also bought toilet paper. Most of the things were in the shopping cart, but some reason, Jeff was holding the pack of toilet paper under his arm. He then spied a few friends from college, and called them over. He was introducing me to them, and we were all talking, and Jeff was unselfconscious of the toilet paper he was holding throughout the conversation.

And I thought to myself — this is a man who is at ease with himself, not embarrassed about the necessities of life. Jeff is at ease with life, a trait I like immensely. I liked that so much, I married him. Well, that’s a bit of a non-sequitur and an oversimplification, but the main point to take away from my story is that toilet paper rules!

I consider myself over the roughing it stage of my life. Roughing it was the first 12 years in Minsk. Now, roughing it means a hotel without a hairdryer. I need my indulgences, those little things that means so much — dark chocolate squares, luxurious blankets and a peace of mind that only comes with the knowledge that at all times I have enough soft toilet paper to last me at least a month.

Written by

Writer and storyteller, immigrant, wife, mom, knitter, collector of jokes, lover of cheap, sweet wine.

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