January, 2002. Torment is released. The prerelease held in Seattle, Washington has a banner on the wall with a six-foot picture of Sengir Vampire and the short slogan "Deal With It." It doesn't take long for me to conclude that it's the best marketing slogan for a Magic set of all time. It's a two-day Prerelease. I'm judging both days, and by Sunday evening, I'm exhausted, overwhelmed, and practically bleeding rules questions about Madness. I'm as happy as I can be when I return home Sunday evening - I've just gotten to judge a two-day tournament, and I had a blast. So I lie down, staring blanking at my Memento poster on the wall, and I cry. Because I can't play Magic. The nearest store is almost 4 miles out of town, and their tournaments are (sadly) tiny and uncompetative. I sigh, and I sleep. I stop posting on the CPA, and convince myself it's over. I always promised myself that I wouldn't stop playing Magic until I had no one left to play with. It took me until January last year to realize that time had come - I was out of opponents. The FNM I could attend each week had a maximum participation of eight players - I was used to thirty. Eight people just wasn't hard, and I figured out within two weeks that I could win those tourneys without batting an eye. I judged when I could, but PTQs and Prereleases were spread far apart, and it wasn't enough. I stopped playing Magic. I stopped posting for one reason, and one reason only: I wasn't playing Magic. I know others have overcome that sort of thing, but I couldn't. I knew I couldn't keep posting here unless I was playing. So instead of the sobbing "Goodbyes!" I see online, which always tear my heart out, I slid into the darkness quietly, hoping no one would notice. (That didn't work.) A few people contacted me outside of the CPA to try to get me to come back. Duel, IRL a good friend of mine, DUke, and Ransac all tried to contact me at one time or another. A few days ago, I recieved an email informing me I was the new CPA Legend. So clearly running away didn't have quite the effect I wanted. But I stayed away. I didn't want to commit myself to the mode of the occassional poster. It's not my way. When I'm posting, I'm posting constantly - And if I wasn't going to posting constantly, then I wasn't going to be posting. Late Spring, 2002. Judgement is released. I pull a last hurrah and buy and box. It's a neat set, and now a store has opened closer to me. But I still can't play, not really - FNM is rarely constructed, and it's constructed play I love. So my tenure at the University of Washington comes crashing to an end. I return home for the summer. I decide it's time to play again, and I show up for the very first FNM of the summer. Then Bad Things happen. I won't get into them, but suffice to say I no longer had the time available to play, even just once a week. I've never been so sad in my life. The Summer comes to a lonely end, and I fly away to Maryland to go to school so I can be near my wonderful girlfriend. I leave my Magic cards behind. I find my new environment to lack competition, however, and competition is something I _NEED_ to survive. Doesn't have to be serious competition, but I need SOMETHING. So I start searching, and I find a local shop. Neat. I get a few decks mailed to me from my kind parents, and I build an absolutely awful mono-U Type 2 deck (Pre-Onslaught rotation). I lose horribly. *sigh* That's ok, I got to compete. And my need to play is growing. The FNM are a bit pathetic, usually around 20 people, but they're better than what I had at home. It's enough to keep me going, but not enough to keep me happy. Eventually, in boredom, I look over the Onslaught spoiler. Nantuko Husk catches my eye. (It's a reprint of a card I'm a great fan of, Phyrexian Ghoul.) NOW I'm intrigued. But I'm still not certain. I start posting on MtGNews again, curious. Is the Magic community still alive? *checks pulse* Well, it's there, I suppose. I figure MtGNews is a fairly anonomyous place. I don't expect to be recognized, and I'm not. I don't post a big coming back post, or anything like that. Because I'm not sure I'm coming back. All I know is I want desperately to play Magic, like I always have. So I don't return here. (Well, I do, but I log out and just read. And not very often.) I decided on a test. I know I'm a different person now, and I'm not as casual as I used to be. Honestly, I need the competition, and I've been known to netdeck. Astral Slide is in my backpack right now, actually. I'm not sure I belong here, so I decide to test myself. I know Carpe Noctem, one of my old favorites, is now highly competitive in Extended. When PT Houston starts, I'll know whether it saw play. If it did, I'll have helped invent a major contending deck. Sounds good, huh? That was my test. I wanted to see how I responded, emotionally, to whether Carpe Noctem saw play. It didn't, or at least not much. And I felt... Oddly uncaring. Oh, well, they didn't figure it out yet. Stupid Pros. Guess I'm the one who knows the secret, still. If I'd been severely disapointed, I probably wouldn't be here right now. As much as I love this place, and the people in it, I wouldn't be able to be here if I knew I didn't belong. But I think I do. And I desperately missed this place. Desperately. This has always been my favorite Magic site, since the day of its conception in glowing orange and black. And it will remain my favorite for a long time to come. And now that I've told you a twenty page story, I'm not quite done. I have a few more things to say. First of all, I wish I'd never left. The CPA is a part of me, and as much as I felt I needed to pull away, I lost more in leaving than the CPA lost in losing me. I'd like to apologize. I wish I'd found a better way to handle what happened, but I didn't. Now I'm here again, and I don't want to leave. I hope, full-heartedly, you will accept my apologies, and give me a second chance. (I hope also someone will be kind enough to either PM me or post something on what I've missed. ) And now, I think I'll go respond to some threads. Forgive me, my friends.