I have 5/5 T9 (ilvl 245). I have a couple pieces of 258 gear. My paladin is basically pimped out. I’m doing okay in terms of healing, when I don’t have six people sniping my heals. I’m blowing my cooldowns when I should be. I’m in a guild that clears 25m TOC with ease and has done TOGC 25m Anub’arak attempts. I’m even healing with one of my dearest RL friends.

And yet, I miss the days when I looked forward to a raid. I miss logging on for three hours and having raids that were spending time with friends. I miss the idle Vent chatter, the crazy raid warnings, the feeling of success that came from downing a boss we’d spent FAR too much time on. Like Vashj or Kael. Or even Leotheras or Bloodboil.

I miss the days of attunements, of epic-feeling quests, of non-puggable content.

I miss knowing that some of my guildies put their minds to it and, by golly, got themselves ZA bears.

I miss helping people out with their specs or rotations or gems.

I miss sitting in a passworded channel for over an hour every night after a raid, with one of my officers, talking about the utter fail from some people in the raid and how it was amazing we’d made it as far as we had, as we went over the logs together.

I miss the sense of family, friendship and belonging from my old guild.

I miss Apotheosis.

I’m basically in my current guild (for as long as they’ll have me — I’m still a recruit) because of my RL friend and because I know this guild will kill Arthas. It won’t even be a race — which will happen first, the death of Arthas or the new expansion? And that’s what it was for Illidan for us.

But I logged so many hours with my crew, so many nights of wiping, so many nights of laughing, that I find it’s those days I’m nostalgic for. I can hack it in a tough guild. I can get gear with ease. And ultimately, that’s not what matters most to me.

It’s taken me the better part of four years to figure that one out. I’d suspected it, but I’d never known, for sure, until recently.

I wouldn’t trade our Illidan kill for a server-first Illidan kill. I wouldn’t trade our Vashj kill for amazing gear. I wouldn’t trade my Hand of A’dal title for Astral Walker. I wouldn’t even trade my Hammer of the Astral Plane, which I got from Apotheosis’ first-ever Naxx10 clear, for Val’anyr, Hammer of the Ancient Kings. I wouldn’t trade Majik or Shadow or Toga or Kam or Kut for any of the people I raid with these days. Except maybe the RL friend, but she’s a resto druid and we ALWAYS needed resto druids in Apotheosis, and the others I mentioned are a mage, warrior, hunter, warlock and rogue/warrior. ;)

Maybe for Cataclysm, eh? I guess we’ll see.