New York Comic-Con is my favorite time of year, and this year (2018) has been exceptionally fantastic for me. From a wonderful meet-and-greet with Grey Delisle to asking my first question at a panel, many moments highlighted my trip into the city this year, but one moment in particular made my heart sing. I got to make a young girl’s day by dressing as our favorite hero, Link.

Realm of Memories is a series where we reflect on our absolute favorite moments in The Legend of Zelda games. These could be the times we first fell in love with a game, were moved by the events of the story or actions of a character, felt triumphant when overcoming a tough boss or challenge, or we had an experience so unique that the adventure truly became our own. The Zelda series has touched our lives in many ways, and just as Hyrule has endless stories to share, so do our writers!

Now, I’ve been cosplaying as Link for a long time, practically since I began cosplaying in general. One year I even went all four days of Comic-Con as different variations of Link! I’m always humbled when I receive a compliment or am asked for a photo when dressed in character, but this caught me off guard in the best way possible.

It was Sunday and I had a train to catch. I left a little bit before the dealer’s room closed so that I wouldn’t get home too late, as my usual train buddy wasn’t there on this day. This year, he was only able to snag tickets for Friday and Saturday. I’m no stranger to the city or train station as that’s where most of my college days were spent, but I was exhausted and just wanted to make sure I made it home safely.

Sunday is my usual day to dress as Link, so I chose the Tunic of the Wild this year as I had just worn my Trainee Link to another recent convention. I walked into Penn station and went about my business as usual, accepting a few compliments on my costume along the way.  It’s always nerve-wracking to walk into Penn Station in full costume, but whenever I’m dressed as Link people seem to go nuts over it. I’m glad to see our boy has such a good reputation!

I walked downstairs and waited at the boards to see when and where my train would be pulling in. In a crowd of people, I stood out like a sore thumb in my green garb. As I was standing there, my costume seemed to grab the attention of one girl in particular, standing with her family as she too waited for the trains.

“Oh my goodness!” I heard her whisper, “I can’t believe I’m standing next to Link! He’s one of my favorite characters of all time!” I couldn’t help but smile. I turned around and nodded to her with a friendly grin before turning my head back to the boards. She giggled in excitement, hiding shyly behind her father. Her dad laughed a little as well and suggested that she asked for a photo with me. She meekly requested him to ask for her, and that’s when I decided to step in.

I offered to take a picture together and she quickly nodded yes. Her whole family was there, wide smiles everywhere! I waved her over and took a photo with the young lady. She was adorable; you could tell she was completely starstruck! After the photo was taken, she scurried away behind her father again, peeking out at me with a smile on her face. Her father thanked me and I thanked them in return for such an endearing experience.

Now, this wasn’t the first time that this had happened. I occasionally dabble in the princess performing arts where it’s common for children to react in such a way. Honestly, that’s the main reason I do it. As much as I love acting out my favorite heroines, it’s the reactions of the kids that make it all the more fulfilling. The unique thing about this experience was that it wasn’t a princess that the girl was reacting to — it was Link! 

She was so excited to meet her hero who she’d only seen on screen before that day. I got to bring her favorite Zelda character to life for that brief moment and it made her entire day (as well as mine)! To me, this is incredible because it shows how much of an impact Link leaves on people. Sometimes I forget that kids like The Legend of Zelda too, as I’m usually conversing about it with adults my own age or older. It’s still making an impact in young peoples lives, just like it did in mine when I was around her age, and that’s pretty awesome.

Of course, a young boy (who I’m going to assume was her brother), was quick to tease her, uttering the words that every character performer dreads to hear: “You know it’s just a person in costume, right?”

Why? Why would you ruin her perfect moment? She was so happy! I don’t want that to end for her! She was on cloud nine and you want to rain on her parade? Not cool.

“I don’t care, I just took a photo with Link!”

“I don’t care,” she replied, “I just took a photo with Link!” This girl. This sweet-as-ever girl. She didn’t let his words break her spirit, she lived in the moment and she enjoyed every second of it, and wasn’t going to let a spoil-sport take her down. Link would have been proud, just as I was in that moment.

It’s funny: I was feeling a bit anxious that day, as my costume was not as well received the previous day as I’d hoped, and this day I hardly had enough time to do my makeup or style my wig properly. As I always learn at cons, most people are kind and encouraging, always playing a part in raising each other up when they’re feeling insecure; but this one girl’s heartwarming reaction was, and probably will always be, the best spirit-lifting interaction I’ve ever had. 

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