I was always that kid who had an extreme passion for video games and other geek culture, but would always get super shy and never mention it in public. I was always afraid that people would make fun of me, and yet I still always engrossed myself in it. I’d always be the one to wear anime tee shirts and a Naruto headband to school, but if someone asked me about it — even in a positive light — I’d get all shy and zip up my hoodie over the design.

Ever since I started playing Zelda games, I’ve been obsessed with the music from the series and would listen to it non-stop. I downloaded it all on my MP3 player and listened to it on the bus during my high school years, but I made sure that no one else could hear anything through the headphones, especially after one day in particular.

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!

We had a substitute teacher one day who was very laid back and allowed us to listen to our music while we worked. Everyone, including myself, took out their music players and headphones and began our worksheet. I had my music on the lowest possible volume, but because the class was in total silence, some boys heard it and called out one of my other classmates for listening to weird “Pokemon” music. It was actually the “Puppet Ganon (Snake Form)” theme from The Wind Waker, but technicalities aside I was mortified. I don’t know if the same aggression would have been hurtled my way if they knew it was my music player rather than my classmate’s, but I knew how they really felt and I was ashamed for listening to my music.

However, the story that I’d really like to tell is much more positive and helped me to get over my fear of expressing my love for gaming. It was probably the same year this happened, as  it was in my late years of middle school or early years of high school, when my youth group and I went to Greensburg, Kansas on a missions trip after an awful tornado (I swear, this story gets happier).

During the days, we went to houses that were damaged during the storm and helped to recover and repair peoples homes. At night, we would stay in essentially a trailer park with one main building where we would eat, relax, and have our meetings every night. In this building, there was a piano as well. My friend at the time and I both had piano teacher mothers who had taught us how to play, and we would always linger to the instrument to practice a few tunes.

She was a lot more extroverted than me and didn’t care what anyone at all thought. She would play all different songs from a variety of anime without a care in the world, and I would enjoy listening to each one. Then she would tell me to play, but I refused since all I knew were Zelda songs and I did not want to get called out for playing “nerd songs”. To be honest, this was a group of church kids and was probably the safest place to play these types of songs without ridicule, but still, I did not budge.

Well, not yet anyway. I did eventually cave because I wanted to play too. Seeing my friends go at it for so long had me yearning to tickle the ivories myself. I waited until there were very few people in the building to finally take my turn. I had to choose my song carefully, though, as I didn’t want it to be too recognizable as a Zelda song. I picked the “Song of Healing” as I felt that it was obscure enough to blend into the background, but it turns out it wasn’t.

After I finished my song, the piano was surrounded by a group of teenage boys. I didn’t recognize any of them, so they had to be some of the locals from the town who would stop by from time to time. I was confused and a little bit scared. What was going on?

“Hey, was that from Zelda?” One of the boys asked. Oh no, here it comes. I nodded my head shyly. All the boys started to laugh, but not in a cruel manner. They seemed pleased by this news. 

“That’s so cool!” He continued, to my surprise. Really? Cool? Not dorky? 

“Can you play anything else from Zelda?” He asked. I replied with a “yes” and went straight for the good stuff — “Saria’s Song”.  Everyone had a blast listening to my rendition of this classic and I did a few more encores afterward while they all listened. This was so cool! All this time I was so afraid of being mocked that I never considered the possibility of making friends through our love of Zelda. 

After I played a few more songs, we all stopped and talked about Zelda for about an hour or so before they had to go home. I don’t even remember what the conversations were about, but it even spread to some of the other youth group kids, who also shared our passion for this game, and became the beginning of friendships. One of the boys from our church would actually wind up becoming like a big brother to me. He was a great artist; during the trip, he showed me how to draw Twilight Princess Link. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years later from Leukemia, so that’s why this memory means so much to me. I’ve never really had anyone to look up to like this before him or had anyone aside from my art teacher to show me how to draw, so it really meant a lot to me that someone would do so.

And to think, I never would have had this connection if I didn’t play songs from Zelda. I guess it is true what they say: music brings people together. Music of any kind.