From about 1994 to 2005, a simple, plastic table with four quadrants of Lego bases serving as a tabletop welcomed me into my bedroom. After homework, I got busy building, narrating each story I concocted acted out by Lego people.
When I was about 15 years old, I decided it was time for the mostly primary-colored Lego table to go. My mom – smart lady that she is – insisted I keep the table.
“But where will I put it? I don’t want it,” I argued.
“Just put it all in bags, and we’ll store it in the attic,” she said.
“We already have too much stuff in the attic. Dad doesn’t like it when we put more stuff up there,” I said. “I want to get rid of it. Let some other little kid play with it.”
“You may want it someday,” she said. “I’ll get the bags.”
So I spent about an hour reluctantly dividing Lego sets into Ziploc bags (Harry Potter, space exploration, knights, etc.) and dumping hundreds of the miscellaneous colorful blocks into gallon Ziploc bags. After that, all the Legos went in to one big black garbage bag, and the table and various other large Lego accessories went in to another garbage bag. Then it all went to the attic.
And there it all stayed. Drawing little thought from me through high school, college and into adulthood. For ten and a half years.
Last weekend, I traveled back home to Paducah, one of the reasons for my trip being to help my mom go through some of my old things as my parents prepare to move into a new home. When I went up into the attic (an experience that provoked fright and dread in me that I had never felt as a child; seriously, I used to spend hours up there when the weather wasn’t too hot or too cold, never worrying about the possible presence of critters, spiders or escaped convicted serial killers) to bring down a box of stuffed animals, I spied a corner of the table peeking through a hole mice had chewed in the dusty garbage bag. I smiled, reminiscing to myself, but I knew it would once again have to be pushed out. This time for good.
“Saw my old Lego table up there,” I told my mom as we sorted stuffed animals.
“Are you going to take it with you?” she asked.
I laughed. “No. What would I do with a Lego table?”
“Maybe not you, but I have a feeling Cory would have a big time with some Legos.”
Fast forward not even 24 hours later. I’m in Murray to attend a joint birthday party for Cory’s nephews – my soon-to-be nephews. Cory’s older nephew, Braxton, who will turn 6 in a few days, is a Lego kid. In fact, he got two Lego sets for his birthday, one of which was from us. The other set he got was one he said he has wanted “his whole life,” and wouldn’t let it out of his sight and hardly out of his hands for the rest of the party. He wanted to stop everything so he and his dad could go in the house and start building the set.
When Cory’s sister or brother-in-law, JT, would tell him he couldn’t open it right then, he’d say, “Okay! I just want to sit here and look at the box… Wow! Look at what they are doing in this picture on the box!” That little guy cracks me up.
Kids will always love Legos, I thought, as JT and Emily told Cory about their hours of experience with helping Braxton build his sets. It really is a great invention to foster their imaginations.
Then I heard Cory say, “We need to get us some Legos.”
Mom was right again.
“Well, I just so happen to still have my old Lego table.”
“Found it in the attic yesterday.”
“Well, yeah, bring that back with you.”
And that, my friends, is how I, at nearly 26 years old, came to have a Lego table in my apartment.
My Lego skills are a little rusty. I’ve already started construction on a small house, which I somehow started from the top down. Even though this new piece of furniture doesn’t match the decor in my living room, it serves as a bold reminder that Cory and I aren’t too old to have fun and play. Maybe he hasn’t tried his hand at any kind of structure just yet, but I have a feeling it won’t be long before he does.
Something as simple as a 22-year-old plastic table also symbolizes, I think, the endurance of childlike excitement and pleasure. If you look at the picture, the quadrants are a little warped from years of extreme heat and cold in a cramped space. You may not be able to see it, but dust still resides in many of the hard-to-reach spaces even after I washed and scrubbed them. But the color is still as vibrant as it was the day it came into my room, and the blocks are still as fun and ripe for imaginative creations.
So even when my body won’t cooperate with a curve-hugging dress anymore, when Cory has about three hairs left on his head, when we both have liver spots and poor hearing but not the strength to shout to be heard, I hope we take a lesson from this Lego table and remember that we can still play.