Everywhere you look, Pandaria is all the rage. People are preparing, excited to start their new adventures, counting down the days until Tuesday, September 25. And while I am usually one of those people, I’m having a hard time working up to the frenzy that usually surrounds a release. I know that the expansion is gorgeous – I marveled at the detail in the beta. I know that there are a lot of things that I’m looking forward to doing. I’ve got gear lists running out my ears, new raid bosses to explore and pokemon to play.
But when I think about next week, it’s with a little bit of regret and fair amount of sadness. And, I suppose if I’m being honest, a case of the jitters and nerves.
Let’s back up. I suppose this story needs to start at the beginning.
When MoP was released, I did what I do every expansion year: I requested a week off work, and got ready to hunker down. Brade had done the same thing. We’ve leveled every expansion together since TBC. And even though he drives me absolutely nuts leveling with him because he often forgets I’m there, doesn’t give me time to read all the quests, doesn’t account for my OH SHINY distractions and tends to be very particular about the pace at which he does things, it’s just something we’ve done together time after time. Once we’ve deprived ourselves of sunshine and sleep to reach max level, we start the gear grind together (which is significantly less rage inducing on my part!). This process is just as much a part of the expansion for me as having a gear wipe, relearning my class and spending several hours leveling fishing.
Well, at some point between then and now things have changed. The first major one was that Brade has decided to reroll a monk. I knew he wanted to do this, but I was immediately disappointed that it would mean that I wouldn’t be leveling with him. I wasn’t sure how I would handle this. We always paired up, and did our dungeons together, and spammed moonfire trying to tag that mob together. It was a change I wasn’t sure I was going to handle well – and I was immediately insecure about. Who would I run dungeons with? What if no one wanted to group with me? Was I going to have to PuG everything? I know this is a somewhat irrational train of thought, especially since I’d been asked if I wanted to be part of an instance group – which I politely declined, partly because I wanted to do the quests and partly because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be up all night grinding out dungeons or if my hands could handle the hours upon hours of abuse that the constant healing would take. But there it was, my insecurity, in all of its glory.
These insecurities (and, well, uh, my demanding/begging/pleading) led Brade to start a RAF account, and earn enough levels, that he’d be able to log in and immediately take his monk to level 80. This would significantly cut the gap between us – and as he’s a more efficient leveler, he’d catch up to me very quickly, or hit 90 shortly after I did. We’d then be back to our old groove farming for gear and working on getting raid ready. I had come to terms with this. Accepted it. I was even starting to work myself into the release frenzy that had, so far, been missing.
And then the other shoe dropped.
Brade came home one night a couple of weeks ago and shared some bad news. Because the project he is currently on at work has a very strict deadline, he was not going to be able to take the vacation time he’d previously requested for the release. And to add insult to injury, he also has to work overtime to make sure that it finishes in time – which could potentially mean that he won’t get home until after 10:00 every night the week of release and full weekends (he’s already had to do the past couple of Saturdays). Once my brain started to absorb what he was saying, I had a realization.
I was going to be completely alone in Pandaria.
There wasn’t going to be any “I’ll catch up quickly”. There won’t be any “I’ll be ready to do heroics” by the weekend. I will have to fend for myself. Instead of him keeping me on track, making sure I am not too distracted by OH SHINY and helping me tag that mob that everyone wants – I will be by myself. Once I reach level 90, there won’t be a tank in my pocket to grind heroics. There won’t be someone to laugh with me when hilarious things happen. There won’t be any “going to queue for heroics, any DPS interested” – rather it will be “anyone need a healer for heroics?” and I’m a little terrified of that question being followed by silence. It’s not that I won’t be able to do it on my own. I know that I will – I mean, I leveled on the beta by myself (LFD instances and all!). And I’m not incompetent. It’s just that I don’t want to do it alone. For all of my complaining and moaning every time we level together about how oblivious he is to the little tauren he’s dragging around and leaving behind him (and at least it is better with dual specs and I’m not trying to level as a healer!), I’m actually really sad that I’m not going to get that experience this time around. I honestly hadn’t realized how much of a security blanket Brade had become in this regard.
I’m sure once 12:01 hits, and I’m off trying to get ahead of the pack, I’ll feel a little better. But for whatever reason, it’s just not going to be the same. He’s going to be in bed while I’m telling myself “just one more quest, then you can go to bed”. He’s going to be getting up for work while I’m sound asleep, thankful that I can walk the dog in the morning so he can squeeze in ten more minutes of sleep. There is going to be no “whose turn is it to run out for food?” while the other dual boxes both of us. In fact, he’s told me I’m not allowed to buy groceries that week, so that I am forced to get up from the computer, stretch and give my hands a rest while I forage for food – since he won’t be there to make sure I’m taking care of myself.
If he ends up working so much that he can hardly play I may well end up leveling him as I gather for Beru’s professions or while I’m leveling an alt, so that he can be raid ready in time for our first official raid. While not the first option for either of us – a reality that may come to fruition out of necessity. And it’s just really hard to get excited about that.
So here I am, with the Pandaland Blues, less than a week from release.
I want to be excited. I really do. I’ve put in a lot of work to get ready. I’m just having a really hard time feeling anything but an overwhelming sadness and a twinge of uncertainty as I think about the coming week.