There are few things Lydia loves more than creating art.
She lives her life on a sheet of white paper. And it’s magical to watch her hunched over with a pencil dancing beneath her and then to lean in and see the strange dreams she is having out loud in thin black lines. She’s so kinetic and so full of motion, but when she creates she is able to transmit this motion outside of herself, sit perfectly still, and make the artwork move for her. She splashes her work with color and paints beyond the bounds of her canvas, using every one of her fingertips, her forearms, her elbows, her forehead and toes. Every piece of herself gets involved.
One of the things she loves most are her Legos. She and her brother sit for hours on their bedroom floor, surrounded by scattered piles of multicolored bricks. And they build furiously. The sound of jackhammers and the rumble of heavy machines echo down the hallway from their bedroom. And finally, this little girl in the backward dress marches out carrying a massive elaborately constructed vehicle that seems to be some kind of twisted recreation of Howl’s Moving Castle, a two-and-a-half-foot tall trundling behemoth of color and impossible shapes smashed together in impossible ways. And she excitedly places it in front of me and introduces me to every mysterious inch of the freakish defiance of physics. She leans down and directs me to look up into the guts of the monster where you can see an inner spiral staircase connecting rooms. She points to overhanging catwalks that hang from the belly of cantilevered rooms with ornate windows. She points out tubing and conduit that snake through the network of bricks to create mechanical systems of unknown function. They line the roof and walls all the way down to the four tiny wheels that struggle to hold the structure aloft.
I squint into the framework and ignore my engineering instincts that are making me tremble in fear just thinking about how this… “thing” should never have been possible. It seems to be held together by nothing more than the grace of God and the blind faith of a young girl that simply doesn’t know any better.
I smile and place my hand on her shoulder. She shyly grins back at me and then proudly turns to place her creation on a small folding table in the center of the room. She sits down behind it admiring her vertical Lego city.
“Okay… Lydia, that’s not a great place to put that,” I say. “That table doesn’t even have four working legs and your thing is on wheels. It’s going to roll right off onto the floor.”
The little girl furrows her eyebrows at me. “Oh?” she says innocently. “I think it’s okay. I kind of like it here. It will be fine”
But I can’t help noticing that as she says this she is casually tapping the leg of the table with her toe, rocking the entire thing slowly back and forth, trying to do it without me noticing.
“Why are you doing this?” I ask quietly, watching her as if she were a strange animal in the jungle that may or may not be dangerous.
“Doing what?” she says sweetly, clearly tapping the table even harder now and watching it out the corner of her eye while she pretends to stare up at the corner of the ceiling.
I narrow my eyes. “Come on, Lydia. Don’t knock it off the table. If that thing falls, I’m not helping you pick it up.”
She sighs. She stops tapping the table. “Fine,” she says. She stands, picks up her colorful machine, and bends her knees to place it on the floor. But halfway down something happens. She lets go, throwing her arms into the air with a shriek of surprise that is followed a full-second later by a hideous explosion as brick by tiny brick the castle of Legos disintegrates around her. Pieces bounce off the walls in four different directions.
The room is silent for a long moment. Then Lydia begins lamenting the tragic loss of her beautiful construction. She falls to her knees. She shakes her fists in the air. She clutches at her hair, pulling it over her face as she wails and rubs at her clearly dry eyes. She lays backward on the floor and writhes in misery, “It’s ruined!” she screams, and then quickly realizes that writhing on a Lego covered floor is not very comfortable and stands back up. She clears a spot on the floor where she can safely stomp her foot.
I sigh and slowly leave the room.
There are few things Lydia loves more than creating art. Unfortunately, one of those things is chaos.