Michiana Chronicles: Something New

Jul 26, 2019

Credit Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

Mostly, people hate change. Sure, there is the occasional insurrectionist who wants to overthrow the existing government, but generally, the bulk of people just go along, thinking something along the lines of “Better the Devil that I know.”

Thus, it is with great interest, and maybe a little skepticism, that we on my block are looking at the coming of the “new house.” It’s not enough that our little enclave is currently undergoing the gutting/renovation of one of the existing homes on the block, but now this, on the previously vacant corner lot.

It was clear that something was up when a large hole appeared, and men came to stand around it and look into it. (Ever notice the magnetic effect holes have on men? Dig one and like magic, a group of men appears to peer down into it. Maybe in this new age, women will begin to do the same, but historically this mesmerizing effect only has worked on men.)

The vacant lot on the northwest corner, which always has been a vacant lot, was on the market for part of the winter and all of spring, and now, voila! In the summer, something appears to be taking root. Speculation was that it wasn’t an oil-strike, but rather a new house coming to our block. For over 25 years, we have been a block of eight homes. Sometimes inhabitants have changed. Families with children have moved on to larger homes, three of us (one young!) have moved on to the great beyond, and graduate students have gone to post-doc jobs in other university towns. But the block has been a constant eight homes. Speculation has been proven to be correct; the hole has been buttressed with forms and a basement has been poured. A new house will sit atop the hole. Now, we will be nine. Change is coming!

As exciting as it is to see growth in the city, this change-thing opens a host of questions. Will the “new house” conform to the character of the existing homes? Probably not. While all eight of them are different, they all are one story, brick, ranch-style homes, and that’s not the current fashion. Will this new house be a behemoth that dwarfs the rest of us, much like an Escalade beside a Mini-Cooper? Will this new house increase the value of the properties on the block, and if so, will that bring a resulting tax-increase? (Now we’re dancing into the “better the Devil that I know” territory. True, the empty lot wasn’t always the most neatly kept patch of ground, but it wasn’t an eyesore and as a status-quo, it didn’t rock the tax-boat.) People seem happy enough to sell for more when that time comes: a good change, but less happy to open the letter from the county treasurer that announces a bump-up in taxes: a change that is hated.

Our block is within walking distance on the University of Notre Dame. On home football game days, people park on our block and walk to the stadium. On decent-weather-home-basketball-game-days, Larry and I walk over to Purcell Pavilion. This is convenient, but this proximity could breed a “game-day” house. While I suppose that it would not be vastly different than a vacant lot, a house that primarily stands empty of humanity isn’t a very cheering thought. Seems rather like an unfulfilled promise.

Not so long ago, a woman with whom I was speaking, Dana, a listener of Michiana Chronicles who recognized my voice out in the world in regular conversation, suggested that in my next Chronicle I “talk about something crazy.” Although not presenting a danger to myself or others, this “new house” speculation could fill the bill. Speculation often does breed crazy fantasies. Best to wait and see what the change of the “new house” brings. Although nine is an odd number, maybe we eight will embrace the change and life will remain even – and not too changed.

Music: "Our House" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young