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The Flat of Legend

May 14th, 2010 by the_lifer

Flatting isn’t always bad. When flat veterans are in a more mellow mood, they will talk to each other, in hushed and reverent tones, about the Flat of Legend.

Somewhere in the mists of Aro Valley, up a leafy side street, there is the Flat of Legend. On winter nights when the Pleiades shine unimpaired, if you have bought the right person a drink from the top shelf, you may be invited back there.

The first thing you notice upon entering is that it smells good. A combination of wood smoke and ginger cake. The hallway is a jewel box of immaculate Edwardian rimu paneling and door lintels. Soft music is playing, just loud enough to mute the purr of a large heat pump.

One door opens upon a rollerderby beauty, setting her hair into retro pincurls as she sits at her Art Deco dressing table, by the light of a tall, fringe-shaded lamp.

In another room, the main furniture is an easel; a third door is closed.

The living room has deep soft sofas, layered rugs, and art around an open fireplace. You are introduced to the other flatmates; lanky, lovely Aroha, strumming melodies on her guitar; Fabien the French baker; and jolly transman Chester. Rollergirl Ruby joins the group soon, her curls-in-waiting tucked under a bandanna.

Over it all presides a benevolent wizard, a bearded man of indeterminate middle age. The easel is his; you have had a glimpse of his studio. In his mellifluous baritone, he explains that he inherited money in the mid-90s and bought the place just before the real estate boom. “It’s like a family really. Fate just brings the right people to join us. Care for a cuppa?”

You stay far longer than you’d meant to, eating Fabien’s ginger cake, listening to Chester’s tales of attending Burning Man, getting an impromptu ukulele lesson, savoring a crystal tumbler of single malt whisky, working out a better way to run the country. At three, you tear yourself away.

Your own abode is sad and cold in comparison, and if anybody is waiting for you there, they are very cross. The next day, you blame the single malt for not being able to remember the flat’s address.

This flat is a Shangri-La, with one difference. Time does not, in fact, stand still there. If you live there, it is all too easy to blink one day and realize you are now 50 years old and still living in one room.

But if all flats were as the Flat of Legend, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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