Thank you for inviting me to a potluck at your house! I haven’t seen you in a while, and I’m looking forward to catching up. It’s nice to know that I am welcome in this group of friends, and I’d like to feel that I belong.
But I am autistic, and this is hard.
First, I have to keep track of these plans, and be ready when the date of our gathering arrives.
I have to look up directions to your house, even though I’ve been there before; it’s been a while, and your town is unfamiliar.
I have to pick something to bring for the potluck, without knowing how many people will be there, what they like to eat, or what they are bringing.
I then have to buy or make it, and remember to bring it.
On the morning of our gathering, I have to decide what to wear, which makes me wonder how warm or cool your home will be, and how the weather will change.
I have to watch the clock and estimate how long the drive will be, to make sure I leave on time.
I have to drive to a quasi-unfamiliar place, glancing at my printed directions every time I stop at a light so I don’t forget where I’m supposed to turn.
When I get there, I have to figure out where to park.
Then I have to go inside, greet everyone, and answer how I’ve been.
I have to take time to look around and remind myself where I can sit and put my things.
I have to present the food I’ve brought, and monitor reactions to see if it’s ok.
I look to see what others have brought, and gauge whether I’ll eat enough and whether it will be messy.
Then we can start the gathering. 🙂
If I go through all this to attend an event, it means I value your friendship greatly. But if I don’t attend — especially if I cancel at the last minute — it is not a reflection on you. It may be that I just didn’t have the energy to face all of the above when the day arrived.
This time, I attended your potluck and had a great time, so although I am tired now I really appreciate the invitation. It will be a while before I can be social again, but I look forward to the next time I see you.