So, this morning I was told, “You know, the grass isn’t always greener.” We’ve all heard this old saw and yeah, sometimes it’s true. But sometimes it’s not just about green grass. Sometimes it’s not about finding what you’re looking for, it’s about finding something else.
Sure, any change involves risk. Leaving a “sure thing” no matter how shaky or shady said thing actually is, feels a little unnerving. Leaving it for the great unknown seems especially crazy. But how unbearable does a thing have to be before you can’t take it and decide the risk is worth it?
Maybe there are two kinds of people with regard to regret: those who regret the things they did and those who regret the things they didn’t do. Perhaps the first kind are more risk-tolerant, plunging ahead into the unknown and making a lot of mistakes along the way. Maybe they’re just more foolhardy. Maybe they’re just under the influence of others. Maybe, for whatever reason, my coworker is this type. The kind to miss what’s left behind more than she likes experiencing the messy adventure of the other.
Maybe I just played things too safe for too long and I want to live on wild side (within limits, of course. I’m still introverted, after all). Maybe I, like the character I wrote about in “Hollow” and “Tricks” and “Addictions,” regret more the things I didn’t do. For me, it’s the normal sort of stuff (why didn’t I take writing more seriously before? Why didn’t I just go for that photography job at the PD all those years ago?) For Davis, it’s the things she failed to report, thing things she didn’t say. And for her, it’s not even so much the people she’s killed, but the ones she hasn’t.
Which, makes her somewhat different than a lot of the characters I’ve read. The older generations of crime fiction characters, the old-school detectives are hard men doing hard things and aside from the glass of whisky after lunch and after dessert and after dinner and after… The newer models are, understandably, broken up about the pain and suffering they encounter or cause. Davis isn’t quite either. She’s broken up by the things she hasn’t done more than the things she has. And because of the things she hasn’t done, failed to do, she ultimately feels more justified in doing the things she does.
Which means, eventually there will be a story where she has to do something she can’t justify. Something she regrets doing.
I guess that begs the question of why I keep writing about a character that doesn’t have her own book series, who isn’t really her own brand. And I guess the answer is, that for the time being, she speaks to me. She’s interesting. And I think she has things to say — even if I have to edit out a lot of her melodrama and posturing. Maybe one day she’ll have a larger platform and maybe one day she’ll have her own novel-length story.
Or maybe the random notes on “Seth” and his new small beach town residence will eventually turn into something.
I do know that if the grass isn’t all that green under you, there’s no sense being afraid of whether there’s any on the other side of the fence or the state or the world. You may find it’s not grass you were looking for after all, but a granite rock face, a dock and a houseboat, a swamp, a pile of sand, a set of Airstream tires…