Bridging the Gap: Liebesbrücke

Before you jump to conclusions, this has absolutely nothing to do with my Bridges of Berlin series! When I moved into my apartment last year I took over some of the existing furniture partly for convenience, so that I wouldn’t have to live in an empty place, eat on the floor or spend the night in a sleeping bag for a month. So it came to pass that I inherited a large bed consisting of two twin mattresses that you can adjust individually at the feet or at the head. It is the ultimate luxury to come home to at night when I am exhausted, although the cats are not as thrilled.

One of the things that is difficult to adjust to after a divorce is learning to sleep alone in a bed. For the past 23 years I had been conditioned to “own” my side of the bed and remain there. In my mind, only half the bed was mine, and since we also had the German concept of individual blankets, the clear delineation of territory established certain boundaries. Suddenly I found myself with a large bed and feeling lost in it, still adhering to the deeply ingrained concept of owning only one side of the bed. At first I pushed the bed towards the wall to create the illusion of having a smaller bed and not having the option to roll off two sides. It took two cats hogging my space for me to finally realise that I actually own the entire damn bed now.

The realisation was disheartening and depressing all at the same time, since the large space seemed to enhance the solitude. The other side of the bed, or to be more precise, the other single mattress remained untouched and the odd gap between mattresses bothered me as well, a staunch reminder of the emptiness. It was only this year that I started venturing into sleeping in the middle of the bed, thanks to Kessy who prefers the edge, but still the darn gap drove me nuts.

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©Erwin Müller

Then I remembered the twin bed mattress connector I had stumbled upon some months back. My mother was fond of twin beds, and found them more convenient than single large beds. If you have guests who wanted a joint bed, just push the two twin beds together, join them with a fitted sheet, and voila! you have a king-size. Perfect idea except for the darn gap between mattresses. So I finally got around to getting the connector, and much to my amusement, it is called a Liebesbrücke (love bridge) by several bed and mattress manufacturers in Germany.

The word Liebesbrücke in itself conjures several images of old fashioned beds I encountered in South Germany at some point. In the olden days, the matrimonial bed consisted of two mattresses and a wooden panel that ran right down the middle, connected to the headboard and up to about the waist area, separation the two heads and shoulders. Called a bundling board, this panel was detachable in some cases, but it was also provided the individuals with some sort of privacy. Took me a while to find an image of it on google…

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I can understand this if siblings had to share a bed, and how practical such a panel could be, but the applicability for a married couple failed to impress me. If you removed the panel permanently, the overall frame of the bed didn’t change, which meant that the two mattresses would still have a gap between them, something the Swabians refer to as Gräbele. For children to sleep between their parents meant the inevitable slipping between the mattresses as well, or into the ditch as the term implies.

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