Ocarina of Time was the first game I ever played. I remember getting to the part where you have to find your way to the Kokiri Sword without getting crushed by that huge, oddly textured, ever-in-motion boulder. It hit me several times, beating me down to about three fourths of a heart. i began to cry, and tried to hand the controller off to my much older step brother. “I can’t do it” I pleaded through my tears of frightful anguish. I didn’t want to be responsible for Link’s death; I was far too young to have that shit on my conscience.
“You can do it!” He yelled at me, angrily, not reaching for the controller, even for a second. “Look, you’ve got three more hits. Just go!”
I whined, but I grabbed the controller in both hands, and steeled myself. I ran as fast as the little legs would allow, and made it to the chest. I had earned my sword.
“See?” My step brother still sounded slightly annoyed, but that was okay. He had taught me courage.
If you know anything about the game, you can see how insanely poetic that is. Courage is that game’s bread and butter. When the Golden Triangles split, the Triforce of Courage finds its way into Link’s hand, because he is the most worthy of it. I was worthy of it. I had proved myself, earned it, learned from it, and carried my courage in my palm as if it were my closest ally.
I haven’t heard from Nick since we left that house back when I was ten. It was for the best. He wasn’t an entirely stable human being. By that I mean he was in and out of some troubled teen…place. It’s hard for me to remember. Thinking back on his behavior at the time, he was very clearly a sociopath. He always came back incredibly calm and collected, which lasted for one to three weeks each time. I think it was a learned behavior that earned him freedom from wherever he was being sent.
He passed away not too long ago. I only know because I stalked him on Facebook for a while, unsure of whether or not to try and talk to him again.
I still play Ocarina of Time to this day when I need to relax, to feel a return to my roots. I’ve played it when I’m happy, when I’m sad, angry. I’ve played it on three different consoles. My very first N64 cartridge contained multiple files of me getting to the Fire Temple and giving up, because I couldn’t beat the Water Temple for some time. Think it got up to one file being named “Link 13”.
Life is fucking weird.
I wonder how many of you out there have similar memories. Things that have entirely shaped you as a human being, brought you comfort in times of need, yet are nestled in these odd contexts that would make others think you were strange for finding a sense of peace within them.
I remember not accepting the Deku Tree’s death. I was in denial. He said his goodbye, the text crawling across the screen with no option to speed it up…it was so final, so unmovable in its truth.
He’ll come back, I said.
I was hopeful, I’ll give myself that.
A main mechanic of that game is to go back and forth between your adult and child forms, and I wonder if this explains why I am constantly revisiting my childhood. I’m sure everyone does it, of course. Still, I feel like I’m always searching for something in those memories. Some answer or key, some hidden inspiration. A secret.
It might just be done out of pure nostalgia, of course. The Master Sword feels good in my hand, but…sometimes, it’s easy to miss the comfort of the Kokiri Sword.
I can’t tell whether that’s cheesy, or deep.