Before we left home yesterday, Allen went through his various 'I have aphasia' cards and selected the one that he thought contained the best message for the occasion. He put this card in his pocket so it would be handy. And he promised me he would produce it when trying to talk to anyone, to help explain his difficulty in communicating and show that he wanted to keep trying.
Ours is probably the most modest house in the area. Houses across the street sit atop a kind of ridge which offers fabulous views up and down the coast, about 10km away. In the last 10 years most of those properties have been expanded or redeveloped and have sold for between one and three million dollars. So we aren't exactly in the same financial situation as many of our neighbours. We don't belong to local golf or tennis clubs, and we don't regularly travel interstate or internationally as many of them do. All of these things probably contribute to there being a bit of a gulf between 'us' and 'them'. But I doubt if anything contributes more to that gulf than Allen's inability to talk and socialise, and other people's inability, or unwillingness, to try and bridge that gulf.
Allen spent most of the afternoon party sitting by himself, or with me. Most guests said hello to him, and a few asked 'How are you?'. But that's as far as these conversations ever got before people moved away. Allen certainly never got the chance to show his aphasia card, explaining why he was having trouble communicating. I've never been much of a party-goer myself, but Allen was always a very sociable person and would once have been right in his element in any group of this sort. Now it's just too painful for me to watch as conversations pass him by. He can't even get pleasure from listening, because unless people take the trouble to speak slowly and clearly, he won't be able to follow the discussion. I'm not sure it's as difficult for him as it is for me to see that happen. He may be a bit more oblivious and happy to just observe the flow. I tried to question him about this afterwards, but of often happens I couldn't get a clear picture of how he felt.