Brick by Brick

Recently we attended, for the third year in a row, the Brickworld Lego convention in Chicago. We packed up two cars – yes two cars – to head down. We had three massive Lego creations to take down and display: the Evil Lair of Ayn Sidious (30,000 pieces), a Ninja Castle (1,000 pieces), and our friends’ creation, a Wizard Tower. Over 581 unique vendors and participants graced this huge hall with their creations and wares.  

Because the convention center is connected to the hotel, we were easily able to bounce back and forth between the convention and the pool. Staying in Chicago for three to four nights is not a cheap ordeal! But, thanks to some help from Grandma, we were loaded with snacks and easy hotel room meals. Everyone wandered back and forth between the convention and the room, spending time looking at all of the creations and then coming back to the room for a snack, a break to watch TV, to hit the pool or finally just head to bed at the end of the long day.

You could see light bulbs going off over the heads of my creators as they chatted. They saw new and exciting things (an entire tree made of Legos!?), learned about things you could add on to your project (lights that you can program?! How cool!), and networked with other “Lego geeks” at the convention.

They were popping with ideas.

As I had been saying for weeks building up to this trip, “We have gone three years in a row now… I think after this we can take a little break!” But when I sat with my son at his display table and listened to him answer questions and gracefully accept praise on his build, I knew my “…let’s take a break…” suggestion would go out the window.

We loaded up the car and my car, filled with luggage, one massive lego creation, and two kids, headed home to the U.P. We drove to my parents’ house with zero problems. From there, the sky looked ominous. It was dark and it began to sprinkle. This went on until 1 a.m., when we rolled into Houghton. The sky was menacing, and the lightning was vibrant against the sky. We hustled home, unloaded the necessities and headed in, absolutely worn from our journey. I awoke to my phone going off every five seconds.

“Are you okay?” came from many different senders.

I was confused. What? Of course I am fine. Why wouldn’t I be fine?

Then I opened Facebook. Whoa. I would use more colorful language, but you know, kids see the paper too.

Mother Nature ravaged the Copper Country. I could not stop scrolling through the pictures and gawking. I was in disbelief. I reached out to my friends in the affected areas and they were physically fine, but had flooding and damage (Coincidentally, my basement flooded too from the rain, but not to the extent of many others. I was fortunate). I kind of wandered around my house, not knowing what to do with myself. I stood in front of the Ninja Castle we had brought home and it dawned on me. My own Lego revelation: we will rebuild, brick by brick.

I noticed on Facebook that no one was whining, no one was complaining. They were ready to tackle this mess and get us back on track. Groups were organized. Forces mobilized. People were ready to pick up a tool and help their neighbor. We will come back, stronger than ever, brick by brick.