Today was a good day, despite social distancing.

A friend came to my temporary polling place (a table I set up in my front yard) to witness me filling out my absentee ballot. I also did yard work and went for a bike ride.

It was on the bike ride that I really thought about social distancing. On such a beautiful day, I didn’t see that many people out and about, but those I did see mostly waved or nodded in greeting. And that felt good, too.

It also reminded me of high school and my big brother Jim.

Of five brothers, Jim is the only one who is an older brother. Because of that, most likely, I idolized him. He might not have realized that because during his high school wrestling career he mostly concentrated on making weight and then eating like a pig after weigh in. If cookie dough or minute-boil frosting was missing from the fridge, it was a sure sign that Jim had been there.

To atone and shed the pounds to get back to 119, Jim would close all the registers in the house except for the bathroom register. Then he would run hot water in the shower and do jumping jacks. As this was the only bathroom for 12 people, we all knew when Jim was cutting weight.

Still, I thought he was the toughest, coolest brother a girl ever had. So when I made it to high school and ran into him in the hallway for the first time, I was giddy. “Hi, Jim,” I said bubbling with joy.

Jim snarled and called me an idiot or a moron and stalked off with his friends. I quit saying hi but I never gave up on the idolatry.

That paid off when Jim was a senior. I don’t know what changed for him, but he started nodding at me when we passed in the halls. “Did you see that?” I asked one of my friends. “He nodded at me.”

So those folks who nodded at me this afternoon are like social distance substitutes for Jim and the rest of my family and friends. It made all things seem possible, as if we might come through this pandemic better off than when we started out.

And as long as Jim doesn’t decide he has to cut back to 119 pounds, I’m sure we’ll all have a good time when next we gather for a family potluck.


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