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Lori is staying with us tonight. I picked her up from the airport tonight. We were like this -> <- with our timing, synchronizing her exiting baggage claim with my slow down drive-by-then-stop arrival at the curb. I think she might have waited one second.

On the way home from the airport, we were talking about life, catching up with the ins and outs of life, work, and, of course, ultimate. She's visiting this weekend to visit friends, but also to par-tay at tomorrow's End of Year Extravaganza, because, well, Mischief is so cool.

At one point, I asked her if she was going to Kaimana next February. I had been invited to play with the same group of women Lori is going to play with (said group being a fantastic group of women), but wanted to stop playing ultimate for a while to heal, build strength, and develop better generic athletic skills. That, and I'm probably going to have shoulder surgery for the shoulder I jammed on that (wonderful, glorious) layout.

Lori said she was going to go, and asked if I was going to go. When I said no, she said, "Oh, yeah, you're one of the quitters."

I laughed, and said, no, I was RETIRING, expecting to drop down to lower level of play in order to keep playing, but I wasn't expecting to stop playing ultimate completely.

The conversation moved on, but her words stuck with me, maybe more than they should have. Her words weren't meant in any mean way, but they still hurt a bit.

Quitting has such negative connotations. "I'm not a quitter!" and "Winners never quit!" and other platitudes about quitting. Why would I want to quit playing ultimate, some still in the passions of the sport might ask. I've certainly been in that state where I couldn't understand why anyone would want to retire, stop playing. Those people must have been insane, I'd think.

Yet, trying to rationalize why leaving elite utlimate is a good thing is hard in some respects, yet easy in other respects. I stopped developing as a player when Mischief started doing well. I've been injured for the last three years, barely playing at Nationals went I've gone. What fun can it be to take stats for Regionals and Nationals? What fun can it be to watch and never play? It's fun for a while, but it becomes less interesting the more you realize what you used to be able to do and can no longer do.

Though, I'm clearly not completely comfortable with the thought, though, as I refer to my decision as "leaving elite ultimate" instead of "quitting elite ultimate."

Eh, maybe I'm reading too much into this. It's only December. If I can heal over the winter and develop the skills I feel I'm lacking (think: 45 yard forehands, consistent backhand and forehand breakmarks, better form on my forehands, stronger hamstrings, and quicker feet on marking), then I'll probably continue playing at higher levels.

However, it'll be on a team where I actually play. And more than just practices.