The Unexpected Romance of Lego Sets

During the Valentine’s Day–themed episode of ABC’s Abbott Elementary, Gregory gifts his girlfriend, Amber, a Lego flower bouquet because she’s allergic to real flowers. A romantic gesture gone wrong, Amber unenthusiastically asks whether the gift is for her or her kids. Simultaneously, Gregory’s coworker, Janine, receives a Telfar handbag from her boyfriend, Maurice. When Janine mistakes it for a shopping bag, Maurice explains that the handbag is the gift—a designer one. On the way out of school, Amber jealously eyes the Telfar bag, and Janine the Lego set.

Prior to meeting my boyfriend, I would’ve sided with Amber in this scenario. I’d written Lego blocks off a long time ago. As a kid, I preferred Barbie dolls and Play-Doh. As a babysitting teenager, I saw the blocks as a hazard. When I wasn’t dodging them in a playroom like a real-life version of Floor Is Lava, I was gently extracting them from a toddler’s little hands before a bite-size piece made its way into their throat. I would’ve never considered it a fun hobby, let alone a romantic gift idea.

But as an adult, I stand corrected. What started as a random trip to the Lego store with my partner a couple of years ago ended with a newfound love and appreciation for these tiny colorful blocks. More importantly, it’s become a fun and unique way for us to bond. Suddenly, I too was enviously eyeing the Lego flower bouquet on my TV and dropping subtle hints to my boyfriend.

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Organized Chaos

When my boyfriend first suggested we check out the Lego Store on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I figured it’d be a nice break from being holed up in my apartment all weekend. We walked into the store, browsed the walls lined with Lego sets, and walked out with the New York City Architecture Set. Once we got back to my apartment, I was eager to start building, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous.

As someone with both ADHD and a terrible case of perfectionism, I struggle to enjoy and commit to creative hobbies. Over the years, I’ve collected coloring books, boxes of crayons, knitting needles, and paintbrushes, all of which remain untouched. Whenever I attempt to ease my brain with some arts and crafts, I’m so overwhelmed by the pressure to make sure it comes out well that I end up abandoning the project altogether.

But since building Lego sets was an activity my boyfriend had wanted to try together for a while, I wanted to give it a shot. We unboxed the set, organized each pack of bricks chronologically, opened the instruction manual, and got started—matching each piece to the diagram on the page and following the steps. A few hours later, we clicked the last brick into place and stared proudly at our new creation.

As we began to throw out different ideas on where we might place it, I felt like I’d snapped out of a trance state. For the first time in a while, I managed to calm the anxious thoughts in my brain and focus on what was in front of me without taking multiple breaks or saving it for later (knowing I’d never actually get back to it). “This is how people must feel after they meditate,” I said to him. “I told you so,” he quipped. I wanted to march right back into the Lego Store and buy another set.

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