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Brick by Brick

“What if I got really into collecting crystals?” Kaitlyn asked one day. “Or dolls? What if I just wanted to have a display case full of dolls?”

Kaitlyn absolutely loves these types of questions. The What If? questions. The I-know-you-hate-it-but-answer-me-anyway questions.

“What would you do if I told you I’d committed a crime and had been keeping it from you all this time?”

“What if I became addicted to drugs?”

“What would you do if I had to wear diapers?”

“What if I told you I secretly had severe credit card debt?”

Let’s hand it to her, she goes big. And honestly, I’m impressed that every month or so she’s able to come up with some new scenario. But that doesn’t keep me from also really hating these questions. I mean, Kaitlyn’s the stable one – there’s no need for external anxiety kindling. And my responses are always lack luster because I don’t want to play the game. Usually something like, “I don’t know, I’d be sad/shocked” or “I’d take care of you.”

“Come on! You have to give me more than that. Think about it!” Is her immediate reply.

“But I don’t want to think about it.”

Rinse and repeat.

Part of the reason why I think she loves these questions (and also why I don’t) is because she always picks something that will push some kind of button. Like the oldest child that she is, she’s looking for a reaction, and, despite the fact that I rarely give one to the level she’s looking for, she’s persistent. In the case of the crystals and the dolls, Kaitlyn was trying to play off my general hatred of knick-knacks and collectibles. Bells, spoons, figurines, china dishes, nutcrackers, toy cars – I would never need more than one, if any. When someone else looks at a wall of Funko Pops and sees passion and joy, I look at it and see nothing but a graveyard of cash money.

Don’t get me wrong, I make my fair share of frivolous purchases and there are plenty of things I have that I don’t really need. There are even exceptions to the collections rule. As a kid I had Pogs and Pokémon cards, basketball cards and marbles. As an adult, I really like buying physical copies of books and have an unreasonable number of journals. But it turns out, there’s another contradiction to my own rule, and for some reason this one has been so much harder for me to accept. I really love Legos.

Now before you come at me for saying Legos instead of Lego (because surely all of you are enthusiasts), a) it’s a habit and b) recognizing the true plural feels like a personality trait and I’m not quite ready for that level of commitment.

I’ve always liked Legos. We had this big bucket of Duplos growing up and I spent many Saturdays dumping them all onto the floor in our basement to make stuff. Usually that stuff meant building towers, “log cabins”, and my own variation of a laptop and phone to do all my office and reporting work. As I got older I was allowed to play with some of my brothers’ sets like a truck and firefighter ship and I loved all the details. The joy while putting a set together! It’s like unto the high of being a carpenter putting together IKEA furniture. There’s a booklet with pictures of the step-by-step process and everything fits together so neatly. What’s not to love?

But Legos are one of those things you’re just supposed to outgrow, right? Like, as soon as middle school and high school come along, appearances are everything. And in adulthood, who has time and money and interest for Legos?

Well, turns out I do. And with Kaitlyn’s encouragement in any semblance of a hobby, I’m starting to buy sets again. It started with little $10 Brickheadz sets which were a low investment gateway to remind myself, yeah, I still really like these. And then I discovered this typewriter and I absolutely had to. Not that I bought it right away but come Christmas 2020 it was the perfect retail therapy purchase. No regrets.

Lego typewriter

It’s still hard to justify buying them though because the good ones are always hundreds of dollars and I’m a one-and-done put-togetherer. It’s only a couple days of activity and then it gets displayed in my office. It feels so frivolous. But that doesn’t stop me from keeping a mental cart full of them. And this past week, I took the plunge on one that’s been sitting in there for the better part of two years: this Nintendo Entertainment System set. I was motivated by getting my Christmas money, budgeting out how much money I’ll have left with the two trips I want to take this year, and reading an article that they’re going to discontinue the set in 2023. Oh, and moral support from Kaitlyn where I literally told her what to say but still needed the external verbal validation. Baby steps people.

It’s the perfect 90's nostalgia set and between the TV and the gaming system, it’s like two sets in one! There’s a turn handle on the TV that makes the scene cycle through, and it takes every ounce of self-control to not blow on the game cartridge before sliding it in to the gaming system. Seeing how the makers decide to put everything together is clever and watching all the pieces come together is downright satisfying.

Lego Nintendo Entertainment System

“I love that you’ll randomly just chuckle to yourself as you put it together,” Kaitlyn commented as I worked on it on the couch. It was delightful. I rationed out the bags, putting together 2-3 every night until it was done in about a week.

In reality, I know my Lego interests are less weird and more like a typical millennial, DINK (dual income no kids), or just-regular-person-having-fun pastime. But it really has taken me a minute to accept that I still love Legos, and maybe, consequently, take myself just a little less seriously. I guess maybe it’s my turn to start asking Kaitlyn, “What would you do if I filled an entire room with Legos?” How the tables have turned.

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