Twilight Princess is one of my favorite Zelda games. It took everything Ocarina of Time did and improved upon it, with one exception: a character named Ilia.

I cannot stand Ilia. From the way she has Link learn Epona’s Song on Horse Grass, to planning to surprise Link with a handmade Horse Call, she makes me want to gag. I’ve hated her since the first time she made eye contact with Link. She seemingly has nice qualities, such as being a big sister figure to all the kids in the village and caring deeply about Epona. So why do I hate her so much? I’ll tell you why.

Let’s go back to when Twilight Princess was first released. I was a young theatre student, and at the time I was sick with mono. Due to my illness and nature of my field of study, I had a tendency to get a bit overly emotional and also attach characters to people I knew. Back then, I was not only afflicted with mono, but also suffering from the pain of unrequited love toward my best friend. He liked another girl. A girl I had not met as she lived out of state, but to me, based on everything he told me about her — and he talked about her all the time, even wearing a stupid rubber band every day with their names written on — she sounded exactly like Ilia.

She was even in an accident and lost her memory, but he was all she could remember at one point — just like Ilia! To me, Ilia was a reminder of what I wanted but couldn’t have. Twilight Princess was supposed to be my escape from being sick and heartbroken, not a depiction of the boy I liked and the girl who was in my way.

Now this was over ten years ago, and since then I’m happily married to the perfect husband and we have three cats. The boy and I are still on decent terms, and honestly, I’m glad he and I never got together, but I never met his alleged girlfriend. I seriously wonder if she was even real; having a mystery girlfriend from another state for over a year, yet zero pictures of her even in the early days of social media seems a little far-fetched.

After all this time, one would think I would be completely over the entire ordeal and be able to see Ilia as the lovely character she was intended to be. But I can’t.

It’s kind of like when you eat something that makes you sick, and you never want to eat it again because it reminds you of the time you were up all night throwing up that bad potato salad you ate at a picnic. Seeing Ilia takes me back to my days in the theater, dreaming of making it to Broadway with my just-a-friend as a boyfriend at my side, but waking up to nothing but rejection. Twilight Princess may be a picnic, but Ilia is the rotten potato salad.