I was AFK for almost two weeks over the holidays... which explains why this pally still hasn't beaten HoR! :(
The holidays were packed full of travel, visiting family members, and trying to hide the WoW withdrawal (symptoms include shakes, gazing longingly at anyone holding a laptop, and yelling "Handle it!")
One thing that did surprise me was how much I missed my WoW friends. It was only ten days... and still, I kept wondering how my guildies were doing and thinking about how much this warrior or that DK or that druid would love to hear my funny story about my family's super alcoholic holiday punch.
WoW friendships are a funny thing - I've never met these people in RL, but I spend hours with them just about every night. You get used to spending that time with those people, and when they aren't around, you miss them. One of my former guild masters left the game about six months ago, and I still miss him like crazy - much more than I miss, say, some of my best friends from college who I haven't seen in years.
One of the many, many things I love about WoW is the way it has expanded my world. I've got friends of all ages, all over the world, in all walks of life. I'm an almost-30 woman living in a small town in the Pacific Northwest - there is no other way I would have met a high school student in California, a landscaper in Florida, a semi truck driver who could be anywhere in the lower 48.
And, crazy as it sounds, these friendships from a virtual world make me more connected and engaged with the real world. When General Motors filed for bankrupcy last year, I worried about the mage in Michigan who makes parts for them. Florida had record lows this week, and I was hoping that DK in Tampa didn't have his pipes freeze. When South Korea experienced flooding this summer I sent a letter to the warrior serving in the Army in Dagu to make sure he was ok.
The world is a smaller place since I started playing WoW, and things that happen half a world away effect the people I care about - and effect me, too.
So hey - it could be that the key to world peace is just getting everyone to play World of Warcraft. Because who would start a war if your top tank was living in that country? ;)