Picture it, Berlin, some many years ago, twelve or sixteen or so, I and Frédérique are at a wedding, the wedding of our mutual friend Miriam, we enjoy ourselves, eat a lot, drink a lot, dance a lot, drink some more, and the next morning, we miss the boat, the boat to take a cruise on Berlin’s Wannsee with the rest of the wedding party, we just managed to come in time to see them floating away, to scream “wait! wait for us”, all in vain of course, nobody would wait for us, we had turned into pariahs, traitors at the very least, who oversleeps on such a bright and lovely summer’s day, who loses control over time and your best friend’s wedding agenda, who does that? So, miserable and full of remorse, we took the S-Bahn back, back to Berlin and instead of seing the lakes, we saw some of the sights, at least we tried. Berlin cathedral, Unter den Linden, Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, all that was very fine, but then, all of a sudden, nothing, wasteland, abandoned chaos, nothing but fallow ground, a left-over apartment building from the GDR, all alone in this emptiness that was once dominated by the Berlin Wall, somewhere the beginnings of the new railway station, like a meteorite in a desert, some grass, a street, and then, just as Frédérique was saying as a Parisian she were missing at least some kind of architectural ensemble, a bridge, out of nowhere, like a theatre backdrop, like some kind of setting, but for what? It seemed to be mocking us and the entire scenery, but it had survived the Allied bombing and the country’s division, stood alone for so many years, just to pave the way for us on that day. How very brave a bridge.
Today, the scenery looks different, after all these years, the fallow land has gone, there are new buildings all over the place, it has lost some of its absurdity, the architectural ensemble, however, remains destroyed, it will never be cured. But whenever I come back, I’m glad to find this gem of a bridge still there. A constant reminder of the importance of peace – and of properly setting your alarm.