The cover of The New Jim Crow was a trigger. Though I'd seen the picture many times, holding the image in my hand sparked a recurring dream.
In each dream, I was standing at a party. Sometimes the party was at the Northland Skating Rink; other times it was off of Hamilton in Highland Park, MI or Bates Street in northwest Washington DC. It was always at night and I was always standing outside with my hands in Girbaud jeans. My father called it, "Standing around waiting to get shot."
A fight started and people scattered. I was riding with someone else and finding my ride started the anxiety. Whether I made it to the car or left on foot, each version included a cop's and rhythmic tap on the shoulder: one-two...three-four. A police officer saw me fleeing and had questions. Nerves and disorientation made my answers unhelpful. If I made it to the car, one of the passengers was loud and stupid. If I was on foot, my flight started a police chase and running from the cops can bring felony charges. The shoulder tap turned into an arrest.
The arrest led to jail; jail led to court and court led to prison. After the tap on the shoulder, it didn't matter when I awakened because I knew how things would end. Dreaming of the party was like dropping a coin in a spiral wishing well.
The coin's fate is sealed once released because the show is worth more than the coin's value. It's worse to stop the coin from spiraling downward than it is to listen to it whirl because stopping it is no guarantee you'll get the money back. Letting it spin seems a better use of the money.
Once the fight started and we scattered, the inevitable "plink" at the bottom of the dream's well was a prison door closing.
Michelle Alexander's book cover triggered a recurring dream.