Play well

Dad was proud. He was beaming in the back, but I knew he really wanted to rush to the front, get on the stage and tell the world I was his son. And, it’s not that he was afraid to do that, it’s just that he didn’t enjoy that kind of attention. I knew that he knew that I knew, if you know what I mean.

Now, had I shat in my pants during my show, had I lost a brick or something, I know he would have been the first one up there to help me, and he would have completely ignored the rest of the world. That’s what Dads do, I suppose.

This is not me.

Anyway, right now, as I peeked from behind the curtain, he was standing in the back, with a big smile on his face, his chin up, his whole body oozing with confidence.

Not that he understood anything about my work, really. Of course, it was him and Mom who had been my biggest supporters, in more ways than one, all through my career, if you can call it that. I guess the first five years weren’t really a career, just like a kid who joins a soccer team doesn’t really embark on a soccer career.

But I did turn pro when I was 14. And it was Dad who somehow got me the job, my big break. I don’t know how he did it, not understanding what I did, or the business for that matter, not really, but somehow he got me an audition – which I then aced.

I remember Dad waiting for me outside, sitting in the car, listening to his beloved 1980s rock. It was only fitting that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” was playing when I opened the car door after the audition and the interview. Of course, Dad had it on repeat, partly to make sure it was the song I heard when I came back, but probably just as much to keep his optimism up.

I remember my first Lego competition at the Technical Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. I think it was our fall break, and Dad took me and my sister to the museum. They had one huge room, filled with Lego building stations, and afterwards, the best ones were put on a shelf, and photographed.

I had that photo hanging on the wall of my room for years. Me, my Star Wars X-Wing, and half of my sister.

Mom told me later that I hadn’t really won, or even placed in the competition. Dad had somehow talked his way to the front of the room then, put my Lego on the shelf just long enough for him to take a photo of his own. I saw the photo, and Dad always told me what a great accomplishment it had been to win that Lego building tournament, so I believed it all.

He couldn’t build anything. Not Lego, not decks, not a house. He could fix things – as long as he could do it with glue and tape. Maybe that’s why he was so in awe with my Lego stuff. He always said that when he was a kid, all he had was stones and sticks to play with. Grandma and grandpa didn’t agree. They said it was they who had stones and sticks, but that Dad had had a lot of toys.

Not sure. All I know is that all Dad seemed to be able to build out of my Lego were big, red blocks that he called different names. One day it was a safe, the next day it was a magical stone. The same red cube.

Anyway, since that first Lego building tournament in Stockholm, I became a member of the Lego club, got sent to Lego camps, the whole family spent weeks and weeks of many summers in Legoland in Denmark, and at one point, our basement recreational room had Lego furniture. I studied architecture, and art. I watched a lot of Star Wars, or Star Wash, as it was called around the house because that’s how I pronounced it when I was a kid.

Grandpa knew somebody who knew somebody at Lego, and I got an internship there. And now, eight years later, I’m about to have my first solo Lego show, with my designs, and all my ideas.

It’s taken me three years to build it. It’s a massive piece of work, and you have to see it to understand it.

All I can say is that in the middle of it all, there is, of course, a red cube.

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