I’ve always found the human act of climbing into bed and falling asleep to be one of our most endearing qualities. We can screw up at work, break someone’s heart, then violently knock down a tomato soup tower at the grocery store, but we’ll still end the day by crawling into fluffy, human-sized pockets to drift off to dreamland. I know sleep is biologically required of us, but when you remove the routine-laden context of it all, it’s actually quite a spectacular show of self-love. Our beds are like adorable little nests built with tender and cozy intention, whether we mean for them to be or not.
I think that’s why beds are, for many of us, the safest places in our homes. When we’re kids, they’re where we’re tucked in, read to and comforted. As teenagers, they’re where we collapse in dramatic tears and read books that take us to far-away worlds. As adults, they’re where we nuzzle in when we’re feeling lonely, make phone calls to people we love or even where we get work done when we’re feeling particularly productive. When you think about it, beds are the ultimate metaphor for the human propensity to be vulnerable.
To explore this phenomenon, Man Repeller partnered with CALVIN KLEIN to peek into the relationships we have with our beds. Below you’ll find three human stories that explore life through the lens of our safest place, along with photos of their narrators clad in CALVIN KLEIN UNDERWEAR, shot in the CALVIN KLEIN section of Bed, Bath & Beyond. These aren’t your average bedtime stories, but they’re just as touching, if you ask me.
Kate is the President of Man Repeller.
When I first starting working with Leandra on Man Repeller back in 2011, we didn’t have an office. Leandra was working from her apartment, and I was working from a casita in rural New Mexico with an unusually strong internet connection, while my now-fiancé built adobe homes. Northern New Mexico is directly below Colorado and gets freezing — which we hadn’t adequately prepared for that first winter. We moved everything into the living room, placed the bed as close to the fireplace as possible, and closed off the back half of the house entirely.
I spent the next four months huddled under blankets on my bed in child’s pose, with my computer in front of me, bowing to my connection to the world outside and developing Man Repeller’s monetization strategy. For video meetings, I’d throw on some mascara, blush and a blazer, carefully position my laptop to hide the fact that my bottom half was still in a bed cocoon, and casually mention that I was “out West,” hoping people would assume that meant L.A.
Looking back, I think that time mirrors where we were with Man Repeller in a really beautiful way. We were (and still are) super scrappy, hustling to bring this vision to life. The joy and excitement of building the company paired with our passion for what we were actually building led to this crucial, open-ended freedom to be creative in addressing obstacles, while also fueling the bottomless energy a start-up feeds on. When I think back to those big moments of hitting milestones early on, particularly with brand partnerships and revenue, I’m in bed, messaging with Leandra while on a call because I’m too excited about whatever’s going on to just wait and update her after, clad in long underwear, fingerless gloves, a beret and every blanket we had.
Eventually, as the team and company grew, we got our first office, then our second and third, and I moved back to New York. These days, if I’m working from bed it usually means I threw my back out, but there’s definitely some magic when I think back to the early years.
Crystal is the Operations Manager at Man Repeller.
When my partner Sharika recently relocated to Wisconsin for work, I was about as bummed as a person can be. She left super early in the morning, right around the time my little dog Blanche is usually ready to party. But that morning, Blanche made herself comfy on Sharika’s side of the bed instead. I ended up staying there into the afternoon, and Blanche never left my side. She was truly in service of my needs that day and it was the most beautiful interaction I’ve ever had with an animal. It was an incredibly raw moment; I’ll never forget it. It’s like she knew what I needed.
I don’t know if I possess the emotional intelligence that my dog does. I’ve always said that when it comes to Blanche and me, it’s hard to determine who’s taking care of who, so this story reminds me that I am worthy and available to both love and be loved, to be of service and to be served.
My bed has always been a respite for me. It welcomes me and creates a safe space; probably the safest space I know. I crawl into my bed for so many reasons other than sleep. My bed represents raw and real love. It’s the place where I tell (and show) my partner I love her, as often as I can. Where I snuggle with my dog after a long day. It’s where I check in on my friends and family; there’s nothing like a nice long call full of laughing in bed!
Most importantly though, at the moment, given that my life is in a bit of transition with some many new things happening, it’s a place that I’m learning to reconnect with myself (physically, emotionally and spiritually), by myself, and it’s really lovely.
Imani is the Editorial Intern at Man Repeller.
I remember months before I left for college, I scoured the internet for the perfect dorm room decor. I put the most energy into finding my duvet cover, as I decided it would be the core piece that held the rest of my decorations together. I eventually landed on a beige one with a subtle floral pattern. My mom thought it was a bit overpriced, but in the end, she agreed to it, because we both wanted my dorm to feel like home.
When move-in day arrived, my parents and I were a jumbled mess of nerves and excitement. The first thing I wanted to do when we got to my room was set up my bed, but my mom suggested we do it last. She was ultimately right; we needed to use my bed as a landing place for my boxes and suitcases in the process of unpacking. After we put my clothes and shoes in the closet (check), organized my school supplies in drawers (check), hung up posters and artwork (check), it was finally time to make my bed. Before I could even locate my fresh new sheets, my mother’s hands were placing them on the mattress: “I’m making the bed,” she declared, with a certain definiteness I can still hear. And just like that, a tradition was born. We’ve maintained this little routine every year of college move-in. Even if I do everything else, she makes the bed.
I can’t remember what sparked it, but upon moving back to school for my final year of college, my mom and I got in a trivial argument that almost led to her not making my bed for the last time. We’re both typically on edge when it’s time for me to head back to school; the separation always feels intense since we’re extremely close. But in the face of the bed-making tradition being broken, I realized how essential it was. My mother’s foremost priority has always been making me feel safe and self-assured, and our tradition has served as a sentimental reminder that no matter how much older I get, how many new experiences I have, or how many far-away places I go,
she will always be there to provide the comfort and security that I need.
In the end, I swallowed my pride and apologized and the tradition was upheld, perfectly tucked corners included. Today I feel prepared to make my own choices, but the foundation she’s laid is exactly what has given me the strength to do so.
Photos by Edith Young; Styled by Harling Ross; Makeup by Whitney Ray.