Remembering the High-Five: A Simple Gesture Between Buddies, Lost But Never Forgotten

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Photo: Courtesy of Satchel Cronk/BIKE Magazine

There are things you never guess you’ll miss until they’re gone. For me, the high-five is the biggest one.

In my home of Revelstoke, British Columbia, the pandemic hit at a weird time. It was an epic winter and we were buried under crazy amounts of snow. Some years you can start riding here in mid to late March, some years it’s more like mid-April. This year it took until early May for the first slivers of trail to emerge from the crush of winter’s weight.

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When they finally did, and the forest invited us in again, it was like the gates of heaven opened. What’s more, Canada’s curve didn’t just flatten, it dropped off dramatically. After months of staying in, jogging solo, and (ugh) road biking, we could finally mountain bike with our friends again (at the prescribed distance).

The trails are free now, and, on them—for beautifully brief moments that seem stretched in ecstasy—it feels like nothing’s wrong. Until, that is, the end of every ride comes, and a big gaping void stands in for what was once the most important ceremony of the day.

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Where I live, we don’t shake hands; we never have. The handshake is a stiff formality, a polite but inadequate gesture of mere acknowledgement that doesn’t come close to cutting it. In Revelstoke, we high-five. We do it gratuitously, unapologetically, as profusely as frat boys—regardless of gender. Whether it’s because you just had the best burrito or the best trail ride, or you’re about to have the best burrito or best trail ride, there’s only one thing to do.

We don’t even say hello, we just smack palms.

That’s because doing so says so much more than words ever could. The high-five takes complete stock of a life bathed in goodness. It’s like you’re reminding each other, every time, “Remember, homie, we got it good.”

So much of the world is upside down now, it’s been especially disorienting to lose this daily affirmation at a time when I feel like I need it most.

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South of the closed border, Dr. Anthony Fauci—the Trump Administration’s lead hand on the coronavirus task force—has said he thinks society should never go back to shaking hands. If that’s what our reality demands, I’ll find a way to be OK with it. I can give up the handshake. But I’ll be damned to never slap all five of my digits against all five of someone else’s high up in the air again.

Humans are resilient, we’ve always found our way. Of all the things I’m willing to give up, hope isn’t one of them. Maybe not tomorrow—maybe not next week, or month, or year—but some day, we will get the high-five back. We must.

This article originally appeared on and was republished with permission.

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