Disappearance in Midday or, A Woman of Color vs Princeton Police

Morning all, and happy Black History Month. It’s chugging along, isn’t it? As I sit here, half in wonder of the reactions to Beyonce’s insta-hit “Formation” and some old man named Romanowski who called the Panthers’ Cam Newton a “boy,” something much more personal weighs on me.

It didn’t happen to me. But it could have. Instead, it happened to a friend and peer, a roommate from college, a mother and professor, author and activist. She was not allowed a phone call, was taken to a police station, and handcuffed to a table…for a parking ticket. I urge you to read her story, presented to you without edits, and share it. When they ask us why we “get to have” Black History Month, it’s because of stories like these. Because this still happens. Because I blinked and woke up in a police state.

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The Sobs That Wake You: An Accounting

As I’ve noted in the past, I’m a vivid dreamer. I don’t mean once in a while a tooth falls out or hey, I’m on a tour bus with my favorite band but suddenly I’m in Wichita, fun! I dream actively and in 3D. I often experience several dreams a night (around November 2015 I consciously remembered having seven, but they were thin like vapor, gone before I had words to describe them). I am jealous—not of anyone’s full-bodied hair–but in a sincere, Biblically envious way—of those who brightly and alertly announce,”I don’t dream at all!” I want nights where I’m not suddenly in the midst of mayhem, a multi-leveled adventure where I’m tossed off buildings (and indeed land on the ground, impossibly hard), physically assaulting the faceless (and no one ever gives me The Kick). I don’t awake leisurely as one does in the movies but sense a shock to my system before my alarm can gently ping. Then I lay around in a cold sweat, humming song lyrics to rid myself of contorted, sticky, uncomfortable imagery. Blissful dreams are often even worse, as my reality shakes me hard. He’s not really here. You have created a wondrous moment. And it’s fake.

I had a late night, and happily set my alarm to sleep in for an extra 30 minutes this morning. Why bother. I was up an hour before the alarm went off, my T-shirt soaked, head pulsing with a tension headache, on emotional overload. I wanted to scream.

I dreamed of my uncle, and that’s significant. More on him later.

Explaining dreams usually turns out to be a spectacular failure where I end up sounding very, very confused, so I’ll condense. This is my attempt to condense; read at your leisure, and at your peril.

I dreamed I was with my mom. And I am with my mom in her Reality Home (RH). But in the Dream her apartment shifted from Clinton Hill to the projects, of which I have only unreliable memories from childhood. (I visited friends there, twice.) I tried my key in different doors, in dark, graffitied, urine-soured halls, and was startled when confronted with strangers barking that I was at the wrong house…Again!” I eventually panicked; everyone gets off a wrong floor once in a while, but with a blink I was in different buildings, with different configurations. I felt equal parts alone and claustrophobic, and my chest was tight with anxiety. I finally discovered my mom’s home—still not in her RH, and certainly more cramped than her RH, but I found a bedroom that was mine, and fell across a huge bed that was as cushy as one in a fairy tale.



I dreamed I was a Gabrielle Union-esque actress at a movie premiere. I experienced the premiere and the filming of the movie simultaneously, dipping in and out of perspectives. Were people enjoying this? Did my parents get good seats? Should I do another take? Craft services was amazing. And on. The film costarred Tom Cruise, which is odd, but no odder than any other dream I have almost every. Single. Night.

The movie’s theme was Powerful White Men Try to Enslave Women. They were forthright in their intent, chasing us with malice through Fort Greene and down toward Bed-Stuy, where a bunch of us—including Kirsten Durst—took refuge in my church on Lafayette Avenue. Although marauders outside the church caught some, a number of us found ourselves literally floating upward into the sanctuary. Although the PWMs couldn’t reach us, this was not a particularly pleasant or religious experience, as we were weightless but out of control, bouncing off pews, walls, and struggling not to plummet back to earth, where our captors lay in wait…like cats.

Almost all of my closest friends and family made cameos in, and attended this movie, although their appearances came as a weird (but welcome) surprise to me. Part of the “active filming” of this movie involved my character and two others rallying the others to flee, and we whizzed down a gauntlet of applauding, familiar faces who simultaneously shouted Bible verses, Delta chants, and “Go team!” cheers. I was bracketed by walls of well wishers, including line sisters, church family members, baristas from the Soho Starbucks I frequent, and semi-strangers from my neighborhood. At this stage I felt warm, filled with positivity, and overwhelmed with a feeling I get after a particularly hard-hitting sermon. Although I didn’t cry in the dream world or reality, I felt very much on the verge.

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Filed under A Bit of Real Life, A Little Sad, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, General Writing, Surreal

Up Next: The Sobs That Wake You

Some notes on dreaming vividly: relatives who visit from beyond, the power of prayer (and longing), and friends who love you when you are not close to acting right. I don’t want to forget this one so I’ll be back soon. Be well.

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Filed under General Writing