...Continued from "I Quit."
23 years old. After beating my sunburnt competitors for a silver medal in Hawaii, I found the fresh training environment I needed to reach my competitive potential to regularly finish "middle of the pack." I got so good, I could beat my toughest rivals when they made at least 3 mistakes! The 2009 Eastern Sectional Championships was my shining moment as a competitor. I skated my best performance, ending with tears of joy to a standing, slightly drunk ovation. I never knew I could be so proud of a 7th-place finish! I couldn't quit in my prime, so I continued to train for the next year.
My comeback: Rehabilitating my relocated shoulder was painful and boring. I could only entertain myself so long at home watching Paris Hilton's My New BFF and learning the "Single Ladies" dance with a sling on. After a week of feeling sorry for myself between episodes and dance routines, I realized my legs still worked, so I began riding the stationary bike in my rink's gym. There, I got to look over the ice and watch my friends enviously while they trained. I also met all the senior citizens who had been using the rink gym for years and watching me train. Talking to strangers who had already observed my life for years through a pane of glass was motivation to get back on the ice ASAP or never return to the rink. And at 24, my competitive shelf life was pushing grandpa status. If I wanted any chance to return to competing, this was the year.
My comeback: While I was in grad school, many of my skating friends started doing professional ice shows. These friends were roughly my age, and they were getting paid to skate in fun costumes for loving audiences around the world. They were performing in Hong Kong, Italy, and on Caribbean cruise ships. They were making money, making new friends, and traveling the world. That was enough for me! Once I cried my way through a master's degree, I'd be as free as a bird. I filmed clips of myself skating, made an audition video, and sent it out to casting producers. I was good enough and got a contract from Hens on Ice for a European tour! "Real life" as a billionaire journalist could wait a year or 4.
My comeback: After a month of job hunting, I was over it. The job market sucked. $9 an hour? Nights and weekends? Making sex videos? No! None of this was acceptable. Suddenly, I heard from two casting directors for two short skating contracts. Yes, I could join some different Hens on Ice shows for a few months and be a prince and an elf! My skates hadn't even gotten too dusty.
30 years old (again). Well, that didn't take long to have another "final ice show." But through some job searching and soul searching as a hen on ice, I decided to pursue being a teacher and "Mr. Cackling Hen." I'd had a great second run at the ice shows, and now I had a more feasible career in the works.
My comeback: I had my ideal teaching job lined up at a great school to begin this August. Then, after a month of waiting for my contract, or even a "hello" from the principal, she e-mailed me back a "just kidding." Thankfully, I heard from the Christmas Hens on Ice producers shortly after that. I'LL TAKE IT.
I don't foresee another comeback, but I never did each of the 7 times I've quit ice skating. I'm just praying I never have to write a Part III.
"The Best of the Unfinished Archives!"
"Mr. Cackling Hen's Grand Debut!"
"Refugee Status with Drag Queens."