Words mean nothing between Trishna (left) and John (right). As main characters of “The Story,” they’ve built rapport via thousands of digital words and hours of phone conversation before ever meeting. While other side characters may falter over minor miscommunication misunderstandings, typically, they understand each other almost subconsciously. That might be the cosmic romantic ideal, so I’m taking my time to explore their personalities and understand their faults fully, before I begin writing their story.
Spoiler Warning Scale: Minor (mainly background)
Let’s set the scene by describing the photograph above.
Trishna reaches out to John after she enjoys reading a post that John wrote about videogame accessibility. They begin chatting nightly via instant message program Messe. They begin occasionally talking by phone, as their conversations deepen, and as John can collect quarters to put into the 90s telephone booth on the edge of town. They kept up that routine for the first few years of their friendship when live about three hours away from each other until The Scene when they meet.
As they get to know each other, they learn each other’s personality contexts.
If Trishna is upset about something, then John does his best to help out. If one complains to the other, it’s always to air out frustration before working on solutions. If John uses frustrated language, then Trishna may try to steer the conversation toward ways to find the root issue of that frustration. If there is nothing he could do, she might change the topic into a more positive direction. Worst case, the potentially fourth-wall breaking Pollyanna could do something to make them laugh.
The big thing here is that word choice isn’t a big deal for either one.
If John says something that could be taken out of context as rude, Trishna will typically consider how it would be congruent with her understanding of John, ask for clarification, and then John could clarify if he had misspoken. There is one major argument that they’ll have early into their proper relationship, after meeting, which is a difference of expectations. The exchange will probably just be a minor footnote in their relationship and a learning experience of each other’s boundaries.
So how do they get to that point of communication maturity?
Is it just that they both respect each other? Is understanding each other’s life context enough to attain a relationship where words won’t get taken out of context? If it were that straightforward, Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be such a big deal, right? It’d be a given. Love stories like John and Trishna’s wouldn’t be interesting and even with their mutual understandings might be trivial. I don’t see that as the case. Sure, there are plenty of stories where love is a central theme; of conflict.
Maybe conflict love stories are all we have left to tell?
Is everything else boring? Already told? Or, maybe, we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re telling more authentic stories now? Where couples argue about pointless things and don’t quite make up?